The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. [Marcel Proust]
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism that means, “beginner’s mind”. It refers to experiencing without preconceptions, observing everything with new eyes.
My father will often tell the story of the time he took my brother Nicholas and I out for a stroll in the wagon one crisp fall afternoon in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. It wasn’t long before Nicholas began shouting and pointing, “Daddy, Daddy, LOOK!” My father with fears of all kinds racing through his mind shouted back in a voice of panic, “WHAT Nicholas, I don’t see anything! What are you pointing at, what’s wrong?!” My brother smiled and responded, “Look, it’s a red tree!”
When was the last time you noticed a “red tree”? Or experienced where you are fully, with a beginner’s mind, free from preconceptions, judgement, and familiarity? Somehow as we age our vision hardens, and the beauty that is each passing moment becomes a blur. The monotony of life limits our sight, even though the reality of existence teaches us that no two moments ever have, nor ever will ever be exactly alike. We label what we see and compartmentalize these images somewhere in our mental rolodex. When we see a similar picture, we recall this image and fall victim of our own objectification failing to notice the subtleties and uniqueness of that particular moment and experience.
My recent cross-country move has kept this Shoshin philosophy wading in my mind, serving as a mental reminder to not take the abundance of new sights and sounds for granted. I am enjoying and embracing the challenge of not missing the mysticism of the evening fog rolling in from the Bay, feeling the crisp pacific air against my face–not to be confused with a crisp fall Kentucky afternoon in 1987–and the myriad of nuances that make my move and life in this very moment unique.
As Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Regardless of whether you are experiencing a significant life change of your own or keeping things status quo, in essence every moment is a new chapter. Every day is a unique journey. The ultimate quest is in experiencing all things, every moment, as a beginner. As you continue to trek down your own life’s path, keep your new eyes open, and stay on the look out for red trees.