Lockdown Day 346 – 8 March 2021 – Looking and Seeing

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Looking and seeing – not the same!

There is an expression somewhere in my mind that refers to looking and seeing. “Let’s go for a look-see.” The origin is beyond me. Somebody used this phrase and it stuck.

There is a difference between looking and seeing. Many people look. Few people see.
When I was about 15 years old, I got my first lesson in looking and seeing. It came from a religious tract and the story went something like this.

The Dream

In a dream a man was invited to open a bag of wheat and describe what he sees. He opened the the bag and at the top was a cocklebur. He reported that he saw a cocklebur and was asked what he sees, again. The answer was the same – a cocklebur. He got frustrated when the man asked the same question again and started digging in the bag. He even spilled a lot of the wheat on the ground. All he found was a cocklebur. He duly reported his finding.

Then the man said: “Look, that bag is filled with good, nutritious wheat, but all you saw was the cocklebur. You were so intent on seeing something else or something out of place that you searched for it and even spilled the wheat. The bag is filled with wheat, but you never even noticed it.”

The lesson was that we can be so focused on the negative that we never see the positive. We can be so intend on the bad, that we waste the good.

Two Stories

There are two similar stories, both about farmers in the Piketberg area (just to make it interesting).

An older farmer could never see anything bad in anybody. The young farmers tried to put him to a test and one day at the market they started bad mouthing the devil. They tried to rope in the older farmer and said: “We bet you cannot say a single positive thing about the devil?” To which he replied: “He does not understand the meaning of lazy.”

The last story relates to another elderly farmer who always complained. Nothing was ever good or right. It was too dry, so the harvest would be bad. It is too wet, so the harvest is bad. It is too hot or too cold. The rain is too early or too late. One season everything was perfect, as if delivered by order. Once again the young farmers put the old man to a test. “The wheat is growing perfectly this year,” they said. And the old man replied: “Yes, but it is taking all the nutrients from the soil.”

Looking and seeing. Many people look, few people see. Two people stand side-by-side and look at the same scene and see different things. The one sees the crimson sunset reflected on the mountain. The other sees another mountain, another time, another place.
Two people stand side by side and look at the world, one sees devastation, the other sees potential.


Which brings me to the question about optimism and pessimism. The ultimate pessimist, they say, is the man who uses both a belt and suspenders. Or perhaps he is just a very analytical person preparing for every eventuality?

Or the joke: the pessimistic man who sees a very narrow space and doubts the car will get through and his optimistic wife who believes he will not try.

Who is the Realist?

And the realist? Why don’t I know jokes about realists? Is it so simple as to classify the world into pessimists and optimists? Perhaps somebody has some background and experience that causes him to look at a specific situation in a specific way? Perhaps he will look at another situation differently? It is possible, even likely. The danger is that we apply our experience to a new situation and therefore cannot see the differences and the opportunities or even the dangers! We only recognize the familiar and are blind to the differences? Then we make mistakes?


In the early 80’s there was a huge breakthrough in computer technology and graphics. Up till then you had to print a document to see what it really looks like. And then WYSIWYG technology changes everything. What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. I love that acronym. WYSIWYG.

More and more I believe WYSIWYG applies to life.

If we see bad days, we get bad days. If we see good days, we get good days. If we see opportunities, we get opportunities. If we see trouble, that is what we get. WYSIWYG.
What we see, determines our thoughts, our words, our actions, our attitude.

And our attitude determines our altitude. WYSIWYG.


Which boils down to this: we must look at how we look, because how we look will determine what we see. And WYSIWYG!

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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