As we walk our neighborhoods and drive our streets, as we listen, talk, read, and watch, we each experience things differently. Much of that is driven by who we are, our past and present. Our experiences and unique perspective shape our observations. They determine both what we see and how we interpret it.
We experience this is small and large ways. You and a friend might read an article or watch a movie and take very different things from it. At dinner, a companion mentions that the couple at the next table appears to be on the verge of breaking up and you had only noticed what they ordered. Approached by a stranger on the street, one person is friendly and eager to engage, the other reticent based on past encounters.
I've written about my love for The West Wing. I suspect many people are watching (or rewatching) it now as a small anecdote to the tumult and antagonism of this moment. The show’s optimism, purity, and idealism is comforting. Though just a decade old, I wonder if feels as quaint to us now as It’s a Wonderful Life felt to people in the late 60’s.
In one episode, the First Lady is engulfed in a silly controversy after an innocuous remark. When Sam reads the quote that caused so much trouble, he says, “I don’t see it”.
C.J., the Press Secretary, replies, “Well, you got to want it.”
After a pause, “Oh, I see it.”
The scene speaks to our penchant for finding seeds of outrage in trivial things, but that's not what's been on my mind recently. It's that simple line, “Well, you got to want it.”
To find joy and beauty in our day-to-day, we have to want to see it. If we don’t look intently, if we don’t slow down and seek it out, the good will be lost to the clamor. There is always something ready to distract us. The path of least resistance is often downhill.
I told a friend recently that they are “delightfully observant.” With eyes wide open and unending curiosity, they see things I wish I saw.
There is good all around us. When I don’t see it for awhile, I remind myself, “Well, you got to want it.”