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  • Steph Holmes

Looking Closely



Looking closely is the best way to extinguish the buzzing thoughts that race through my brain on the daily.


Looking closely is my religion, my ritual.


What do I look closely at, you ask?


Everything around me: at my chapped hands, at the rippled edge of a dried leaf on the side of the path, at the ice crystal cloud billowing out from my mouth as I huff up the trail. If I see the doe rummaging through the leaves before she sees me, I know I'm in flow.



Noticing and admiring the small minute details of my walk gives my mind and soul space to rest (and sometimes it even allows me to receive messages).


I understand that this feeling of presence is why some people meditate and it's the reason why I go for a walk out in nature at least once a week.



I've done my slow walk through the park and by the time I get back to the nature center, my thoughts have returned though they sound different now. They're... quieter.


This nature center houses a large animal taxidermy collection, so I've brought my sketchbook and a few key drawing pencils in my backpack so I can draw some of the animals on display. Note: I'd much rather these animals still be alive and not hung on a wall, but that's a whole other blog post for next time.



Drawing from life can feel clunky to start off with. The buzzing thoughts in my mind start back up again in an effort to help me get the drawing started.


Okay, let's be good today and start with the larger abstract shapes. What shape is the head overall? The angle of the forehead? The shoulders? How do I begin to push the top of the head back in space?


No -- I want to start with the little details right away, but I've got to do those last. Ugh. I know, I do want to draw the feather details. No, that's not quite right, better erase that before I get any further.


Ok, yes...


Got it.


There we go.


My hand is tracing the exact spot that my eye is tracing on the blue jay itself now. I'm not even looking at my hand very often. I don't need to. My hand and eye are trusting each other. I'm just... looking closely at these details. Looking closely to understand, to capture, to admire what is in front of me. And suddenly I've landed back into presence in the same way I felt out in the woods.



To step beyond seeing the world in symbols and emotional attachments and to unlock the ability to actually see what is in front of us without labeling it... now that is pure presence, and I believe there are many, many pathways to get there.


I certainly can't fall into flow on command yet, but I know it's worthwhile to keep practicing, to keep connecting and to keep looking closely.



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