Is There Something Wrong with our Eyes?

by Margaret Lobenstine

Now that the lushness of summer greenery is upon us, does this ever happen to you?

You sit on a deck or by a river with a view that seems picture-perfect and pleasing to your soul--until you see the ugly factory or huge power lines right splat in the middle of it, and feel irritation instead of pleasure?

Years ago when my in-laws lived right across the Connecticut River from Mt. Wantastiquet in Brattleboro, VT, that was a common occurrence. The view from their dining room would have been amazing had not the dozens of telephone poles lining the river limited anyone's use of the term "breathtaking." My father-in- law, however, was not "anyone." Every time a new visitor said something along the lines of, "What a beautiful view you have. What a shame the phone poles mess it up," he would comment, "What is it with us? Why do we always notice the one thing that may be "wrong" instead of the many things that are definitely right?"

Now my in-laws are dead, and I don't live by a river or have lines of telephone poles to worry about. But, until yesterday, every time I sat on my deck, the ugly dead branch hanging like a skeleton just to my left really annoyed me. And, until yesterday, whenever I sat in my rocker looking out our front window, the huge dead tree spreading its tentacle-like branches across the green landscape inevitably attracted both my eye and my disappointment.

So what happened yesterday?

Perhaps my father-in-law's spirit paid me a visit, I don't know. But all of a sudden it occurred to me I could choose to look elsewhere. I could choose to look at the amazing fir tree and delightfully shaking aspens by our deck and just skip looking left at the ugliness. Similarly I could focus in on the many flowering bushes in front of my house --and never even see the dead tree!

Okay, so I don't have this new behavior mastered yet, but it's become a new point of awareness. Each time my eyes race to the dead branch or ugly tree, I have another chance to consider to my father-in-law's question: why do we get annoyed by a few minor "negatives," when there is so much that's positive we could focus in on instead?

Asking that question produces an interesting result: When I remind myself I don't have to "see the phone poles instead of the mountain," magic occurs: abracadabra, the dead browns are gone and the greenness enthralls me once again

Let me know if this approach works magic for you too.

Margaret Lobenstine is a life coach who focuses on helping "Renaisance Souls." Visit her website at

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