To See More … Is To Become More
By Stephen Doherty
August 7th, 2022
“Fill your life with adventure, not things. Have stories to tell – not stuff to show.” –Anonymous
My life was forever changed and my own personal mantra for living permanently cemented in Stamford, Connecticut in 1978. I was sent there for three weeks of training for my first job and they housed us in dorms that were basically a bed and a desk. Keep in mind that with no cell phone or lap top – the desk was pretty much for writing postcards and studying company materials. The second I sat down at this desk – what was staring back at me was a picture of Socrates with the following quote. “To see more – is to become more.”
The moment I read it I internalized it forever and it would become my northern star for living. I believed and lived by the credo that the quantity of things we see and experience is a huge determinant of the quality of our respective lives. The rejuvination and replenishment is sourced in the newness of the visual – not just the grandeur of it.
Certainly, the magnitude of what lies before us impacts us all in different ways – but my experience suggests that it is the freshness and the novelty of a new destination that provides the nectar. That’s why there is so much value to be garnered from day trips or short weekend hops to here and there. There is often as much magnificence and splendor in something new and fresh as there is in beholding something bold and spectacular.
I took a motorcycle trip up north last summer that took me through Yellowstone Park, past the Grand Tetons, and over Glacier National Park. It was, of course, spectacular and memorable. I also talked my way into a basement gymnasium in Cody Wyoming and spent hours drinking coffee and eating home made pie in a tiny old restuarant in Babb Montana. (Population 41) The differences in visual magnitude were obvious but the enjoyment of the moments were similar and for the same reason – “seeing more” that I’d never seen before. Remember, all five senses are at play here and none have the market cornered on sway.
I also believe that when we see new things, we have a temporary regression to our child-like ways of viewing the world. Children can block out everything around them when focused on something new and interesting. I think most adults would agree that distraction often interferes with our ability to truly focus and enjoy many things. The nice thing about “seeing more” is our tendency to hone in and focus on things new to our realm of experience.
For brief moments surrounded in newness – we are able to capture the power of now! Children only see now but when we become adults, that gift is lost as we spend more time looking backwards and forwards – often at the expense of the moment. The antidote for that malady is to constantly be seeking out new things to see and do. I’m sure the pyramids are impressive – but I’m thinking we can just as easily “become more” hiking up to a waterfall in an adjacent town or fly fishing a river near us .. that we’ve never been to.
In I Corinthians, 13:11, the Bible encourages us to “put away childish things” as we become adults. Apparently, a rite-of-passage into manhood requires that we abandon some of the very things that made life’s moments special. However, in Matthew 18, Jesus doesn’t just remind us but implores us that “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Hmm – a bit of a paradoxical conundrum? I have neither the time nor inclination to dissemble this dichotomy except to throw my full support behind the latter. I think this is why we so often see the elderly among us, their physical prowess a thing of the past, recapture some of that childlike fascination with things of the here and now. Maybe one gift of aging is a reversion born of too much past too ponder and too little future left to worry about.
Short of entering the Kingdom, though – there is comfort for me in knowing that immersion in things new and fresh never fails to revitalize and rejuvinate my soul as, at least for the moment, we’re able to view it through the wide-eyed excitement of children. For the record, when I became a man and gave up childish things – I hope I’m not the only one who refused to give up all childish things. The world is a beautiful and fascinating place. Is there any among us who can deny that some measure of childishness is a net enhancement?
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” –Mae West