Seeing Vs. Observing
I use my eyes to see and observe the world around me. Seeing is about more than just what the eye records: it is about knowing, feeling, and understanding. When I am truly seeing something, whether it is a sunset or the way the branches of the Gary oaks seem to frame the view of the sky, I feel a holistic understanding of the scene or object. I become engaged with it: I can sense it’s weight, texture, what it is made of, and how it works. Seeing becomes a type of empathy with the world and objects around me: I begin to feel as I am a part of it. Aside from meditating or the act of repetitive motion, drawing is a tool that I can use to see the world. It uses a different part of the brain than the one used while observing.
I observe the street signs while I’m on the bus. I take in this information so that I can tell whether or not I’m going to the right way or how far I am from my stop. I acknowledge that there are other passengers around me. I could tell you if the person sitting next to me was wearing a jacket but I could not describe it’s singularity to you, its folds and wrinkles. When I am observing the world, I am taking in the symbols of my environment and not each individual stimulus. If I did, the influx of information and sensations would probably overwhelm my senses. My brain has developed this buffer so I can function in this world. It hinders my ability to see and understand beyond the codified label my brain gives to things but without it, I would not be able to perform the mundane tasks needed to survive.