Yesterday I remembered a lesson we had back in high school that really changed the way I view things. Interestingly enough, the more I learn each day, the more I realize just how much I learned at my crunchy Waldorf school! The crazy details of the lesson I do not remember, but the main aspect of it really stuck with me. The story was about a medical student who was learning how to understand his craft. His professor brought in a freshly caught fish and threw it on the table in front of the student. He then asked the simple question: “what do you see?”
Here’s where it got fun. As one could assume, the students response was: “a fish”, and then probably thought about how stupid this project was and when can I cut this thing open! But to that, the teacher just smiled and asked again: “what do you see?” Rather then sit around and wait for the inevitable non-response, the professor told him that they would not proceed until he had written five pages of notes on what he saw. He then left. What occurred then was a lot of sitting around and staring at dead fish, but not much else. When the student returned the next day, the professor asked the same question, then promptly left the room. This kept going on and on, day in and day out. The students’ clothes began to smell annoyingly of fish, everything he saw seemed to look like fish, everything he ate tasted like fish, and the fish itself slowly began to rot away. The student would sit and stare at this thing, jotting down notes like: grey, smells stronger each day, has scales, eyes are glazed and slightly brown, and other basic bullet points. The one day it happened. One day the student walked in, sat down, opened his note pad, looked at the fish and just like that, 5 pages were filled. So what did he see?
He saw shades, rough spaces, and smooth spaces, light regions and how the muscles must have worked. He saw imbalances in the shape, one tale scale large than the other. He saw hints of red, and even a little green mark around the base of its mouth. He saw similarities between the skin on the stomach and the skin on his own hands. And what’s crazier is that he began to connect with the fish. The more time he was able to experience sitting alone with that thing, the more he was able to use it as inspiration to begin learning a bit more about himself. It may sound strange, but if you ever spend a bunch of time alone in a room with only one thing with any form of detail to it, you will inevitably see some crazy detail in the thing, and you’ll become a good bit more introspective. If the only person you can spend time with is yourself, you will eventually learn a TON about yourself. It may take some people a month to get there, other a couple weeks, still others a day or two. But when you get there, you’ll learn a ton!
I tell this story because while this guy was forced to stare at a fish until he “saw the light”, perhaps you can do something similar. Here’s my challenge to all of you:
Grab a bottle of water, a notepad and pen, a chair and head into the bathroom. Close the door and set yourself right on front of the mirror. Take a deep breath, look at yourself; what do you see?
I know that some of you out there will immediately think this is stupid and just stop doing it. Others may do it for a couple minutes, feel embarrasses ad just sit there without actually looking in the mirror. But you’ve nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain! If you’ve never sat and stared at yourself for an extended period of time, you are missing out on a very unique way to get insight in to who you are and how others perceive you.
Look at your eyes, look at the color, at their different sizes, at your eyebrows, at your wrinkles, at the way your mouths is different heights on ether side, how you breath, how you smile, how you talk and the faces you feel most comfortable making. It’ll be an eye-opening experience (no pun intended) if you actually give yourself the opportunity and time to really see what’s going on there. You know how sometimes you feel like someone can see right through you? Well, allow yourself to do that to yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, look at yourself until you can look into your own soul.
Ok. I guess I can be a little intense sometime, huh?
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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