What have you seen?

If you read my previous post about finding your Buddha, you already know I have an affinity for true crime podcasts. I tend to take these morbid little tidbits I hear and turn them into something way bigger than intended. Here’s another example.

I was listening to a podcast on my way to work. I honestly don’t remember what the episode was about. But, here’s what caught my attention:

It was mentioned that someone in the episode was an organ donor, and after they died, their organs were given to recipients all over the country. That’s normal enough, right?

But, here’s what I’d never thought about: your eyes can be donated. In this particular story, the man’s eyes went to a stranger who could, through the miracle of science, suddenly see again.

It got me thinking. What if I donated my eyes, and the person who received them could suddenly see everything I had seen?

I’m not a scientist, but I do know that’s not how it works. When someone receives a heart transplant, they don’t suddenly know the pain that broke or the joy that swelled their donor’s heart. So, likewise, I understand that transplanted eyes don’t carry with them the stories of what they’ve seen. They’re not little projectors with decades’ worth of film.

But… imagine with me, for just a moment, that they are.

Imagine that someone has received your eyes. What would they see? What would those everyday visuals in your life tell them about who you were? Who you loved? What you deemed important?

Would your view of the world make them happy? Would it make them sad? Leave them longing, fearful, excited, or inspired?

Maybe the fact that you could see from a standing level would bring a smile to the face of someone whose whole life has been spent in a wheelchair.

Perhaps the mundane tasks of wiping noses and zipping pajamas would be a much needed visual for someone who longed for children.

Or, what if the books you read brought enjoyment to someone who had never been given the opportunity to learn?

It’s easy to take for granted the many things in our lives. I know this first-hand. I don’t truly notice everything I see in a given day. My life is so busy that by the time I lay down at night, there’s no time to reflect. I don’t stop and take an inventory of what I saw:

Makeup drawer, hair straightener, clothes, car keys, insane highway traffic, parking garage, computer screen, coffee, elevator, phone, keyboard, food, computer screen again, friends, car, son, home, husband, dinner, dogs, book, toothbrush, pillow…

But, when I write them down, I can surely understand how those things would affect someone less fortunate.

That homeless man on the corner by my office… would he not love to see the warmth of my home?

And, it goes the same way for the less desirable things we choose to see.

Driving past that homeless man, with crisp dollar bills hidden in my wallet, for example.

Because the truth is, not everything we see would bring enjoyment to someone who suddenly saw through our eyes.

So, maybe it’s time to put effort into what it is we do see.

We can travel. Think of all the land there is in the world and all there is to see. We can look at art. There will never be an agreement on what is beautiful, but we can still see it. We can look at our husbands, wives, children. Really see them. Look at them with sincerity, and take in their features.

I’ve found that shifting the way I think also helps me relate to others. There are so many soldiers who have returned home and struggle to adjust back to normal life. Many wonder why. But, think about what they’ve seen. Imagine you received their eyes, and with it, their memories. I shudder at the thought.

Chances are, that crime podcast didn’t intend for me to go down this rabbit hole. But thanks to that story, I now try to stop and see what others see before I make judgements.

And, I think of my eyes as vehicles for collecting a large treasure chest full of moments, beauty, and experience that someone would be delighted to receive.

After all… even if that will never happen, what’s the harm in living like it will?

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