Life's Illusions

My dad was an optometrist, and as a kid he taught me to love optical illusions. He had the image “All is Vanity” hanging in his office. It is a 19th century painting by Charles Allan Gilbert. At first, I was afraid of it, because all I saw was the scary part.  As I learned to see the other image, I came to love it, and I still do!

I realize now that life is like that image. It can be seen different ways depending on how you look at it. I am seeing that what I focus on gets bigger, and I have become careful with my attention.
 
Fear and lack are bullies that fight to be seen.  Sometimes they win, but most of the time my gaze stays fixed on every little step in the right direction, every success and sign of light.  As a result of that, and of hard work, I am starting to see the life I want unfolding.
 
The things I want are simple: to spend my days at work that is satisfying, enjoyable and worthwhile; to have relationships that are nourishing and reliable; and to know that I will always have and be enough.  I believe we all want this!
 
I have taught myself to see gifts in the struggle, and to learn from missteps.  I am learning to be kinder with myself for my shortcomings, and I am always reminded that gratitude is powerful beyond measure.
 
What are you focusing on?


(If you leave a comment, please stop back.  I always respond.)
                               (Image by Charles Allan Gilbert 1892, public domain)

8 comments

  • harry

    harry maine

    gratitude is my focus these days. gratitude over drama...g.o.d. i can turn almost any moment into a drama by focusing on the potential fear involved. But i can also choose, like you wrote above, to be grateful for something about the moment. even if i have to force the gratitude, it's better than the alternative: fear. i read or heard this recently; i cant remember which. "i'm not afraid anymore. i'm not sure what will happen, but i know whatever does happen will be better than being afraid." i love that. AND...wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu the big gig is almost here!!! you are going to be great. they are going to love you and you are going to play the folk fest where we met. i love it !! i am feeling so proud of you and inspired by you right now. i wish i could be there to give you this giant hug and kiss and wish of good luck. but guuuurl, you dont need luck cuz u gots the skills to bring on the thrills. i mean to say... you have worked hard to get here and all that hard work will be there for you this friday night. xoxo is x hug or is o ?

    gratitude is my focus these days. gratitude over drama...g.o.d. i can turn almost any moment into a drama by focusing on the potential fear involved. But i can also choose, like you wrote above, to be grateful for something about the moment. even if i have to force the gratitude, it's better than the alternative: fear. i read or heard this recently; i cant remember which. "i'm not afraid anymore. i'm not sure what will happen, but i know whatever does happen will be better than being afraid." i love that.
    AND...wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu the big gig is almost here!!! you are going to be great. they are going to love you and you are going to play the folk fest where we met. i love it !! i am feeling so proud of you and inspired by you right now. i wish i could be there to give you this giant hug and kiss and wish of good luck. but guuuurl, you dont need luck cuz u gots the skills to bring on the thrills. i mean to say... you have worked hard to get here and all that hard work will be there for you this friday night. xoxo is x hug or is o ?

  • Denise

    Denise

    Hello "Harry!" Gratitude is a powerful thing. I am glad to hear that it helps you to keep fear in check. Fear is a powerful thing too. You are so sweet to believe in me so much. I am looking forward to Friday night's show, and I hope that they will book me for the festival. That would be an honor and a thrill. I will keep you posted... My best to you, Denise

    Hello "Harry!"
    Gratitude is a powerful thing. I am glad to hear that it helps you to keep fear in check. Fear is a powerful thing too.
    You are so sweet to believe in me so much. I am looking forward to Friday night's show, and I hope that they will book me for the festival. That would be an honor and a thrill. I will keep you posted...
    My best to you,
    Denise

  • Bryan Abes

    Bryan Abes Pennsylvania

    My focuses these days have gotta be self pride, and patience. These all pertain to my music studies. Even when I make progress on the guitar and piano, I'd be frustrated and disappointed because I'm so anxious for my playing to sound perfect and natural and it doesn't. I would focus on the negative and overlook the positive. Inspired by your words of encouragement about being kind to myself at our last lesson,I'm definitely going to focus on being proud of how far I've come with my music, and tell myself I'm only gonna get better and better the more I practice. Thank you for helping me to focus on the positive. You are one special person. (:

    My focuses these days have gotta be self pride, and patience. These all pertain to my music studies. Even when I make progress on the guitar and piano, I'd be frustrated and disappointed because I'm so anxious for my playing to sound perfect and natural and it doesn't. I would focus on the negative and overlook the positive. Inspired by your words of encouragement about being kind to myself at our last lesson,I'm definitely going to focus on being proud of how far I've come with my music, and tell myself I'm only gonna get better and better the more I practice. Thank you for helping me to focus on the positive. You are one special person. (:

  • Debbie

    Debbie Pennsylvania

    I am thinking of you tonight as you showcase your talents. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are selected for the folk festival. They would be lucky to have you! I am fascinated by the picture your father kept in his office. An interesting writing exercise would be to ask people to think of one thing their parents kept in their workspace that defines the space for us, as we remember it.

    I am thinking of you tonight as you showcase your talents. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are selected for the folk festival. They would be lucky to have you!

    I am fascinated by the picture your father kept in his office. An interesting writing exercise would be to ask people to think of one thing their parents kept in their workspace that defines the space for us, as we remember it.

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thanks Bryan! Sounds like you are focusing on the right things now. What we give our attention to gets bigger. Good job!

    Thanks Bryan! Sounds like you are focusing on the right things now. What we give our attention to gets bigger. Good job!

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thanks for thinking of me last night Debbie. It was a great show, and I felt the folks who were there with me in spirit. I would be curious about the outcome of a writing exercise like that. I remember a lot of things about my dad's office. That one is the most alive for me. What would you write about?

    Thanks for thinking of me last night Debbie. It was a great show, and I felt the folks who were there with me in spirit.
    I would be curious about the outcome of a writing exercise like that. I remember a lot of things about my dad's office. That one is the most alive for me. What would you write about?

  • Debbie

    Debbie Pennsylvania

    My father used to like to go to the 76ers games, and take pictures of the athletes. He would then get the pictures he was proud of blown up and hang them in his store. Sometimes players from the team would come in and comment on them. My father was in his glory at those moments. That's what I would write about.

    My father used to like to go to the 76ers games, and take pictures of the athletes. He would then get the pictures he was proud of blown up and hang them in his store. Sometimes players from the team would come in and comment on them. My father was in his glory at those moments. That's what I would write about.

  • Debbie

    Debbie

    Oops Debbie. I was responding to you, and wrote your name instead of mine, and now I can't edit it. Well, you know this is from me, and not you... That is a great story Debbie. I can imagine the photos, and his pride in them. Thanks for sharing that...

    Oops Debbie. I was responding to you, and wrote your name instead of mine, and now I can't edit it.

    Well, you know this is from me, and not you...

    That is a great story Debbie. I can imagine the photos, and his pride in them. Thanks for sharing that...

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