A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world.

In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so.  He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.


One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising.  Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.

Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012)  It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making.  Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is?  Think about it….


Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing:  take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.

This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places.  When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.

For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world.  He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.


I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous.  You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.

Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said.  How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?


It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.

You need to get some Outsider eyes.  Ask yourself:  How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?

I grew up in Hawaii.  For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.”  It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America.  It has been an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place.  They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.”  Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.

Hawaiian 767 by Simon Clancy [CC BY 2.0]
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.


Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us.  Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things.  They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.

Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else.  They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.

Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.

Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else.  What you believe is what you will see.  It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.

Here’s another poem….


Island welcomes you when you come.

The gate is always open.

It is open when you come;

When you leave, it is open.


‘As how…


But, if…if you really want to be a part

Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,

Talking about, thinking about,

Here’s your first lesson:


Be Island.

Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.

Whatever you can give, give graciously.

Be who you are, gracefully.


That’s Island.

People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.

If you cry, they will hug you.

If you hurt, they will comfort you.


Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.

Show angry and they walk away,

Or return anger for anger.

That’s Island.


If you are real, Island is real.

If you play games, Island plays harder games.

If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –

Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.


‘As how.

Island is not how much money you have,

Or how many fine things.

Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.


‘As how.

You will be tested:  There will always be lessons,

There will always be tests.

Doesn’t matter how long you stay.


That’s Island.

People have been burned by strangers over and over.

They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…

If you will keep going, as they do.


‘As how.

They know:  Island is a cruel, cruel lover.

Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.

She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….


That’s Island….

If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.

Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.

Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”


Island will not be with you and in you and of you.

You can live here fifty years,

And STILL you will not be Island.

‘As how….


So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,

Know there is a price you will have to pay.

Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.

That’s Island….


Also know that when you have paid it

And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,

Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….

That’s Island.


Here is the key…

You can use it if you like:

There is only one gate to Paradise.

It is inside of you.


‘As how….

by Netta Kanoho

[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how….  It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that.  It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.] 

Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]



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16 thoughts on “THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

  1. Antonis Christonasis says:

    Wow, really nice observation. Everything around us is subjective and the world transforms, relative to how we see it. The main message of your poem, from my perspective, is that in order to change the world around us, we have to change, in order to change our reality and be happy, we have to give that out to the world first. It all comes down to us.

    1. Hey Antonis:

      Thank you for the visit and your comments. You got it in one! It does all come down to us….

      Please come again!

  2. Hi there,
    I am a person who no longer goes out into the world anymore. I used to and how I did love it. I have travelled to far off places in the world and feasted my eyes on many a beautiful sight. I have met different and interesting and kind-souled people who have touched my soul and that I will never forget.

    But for now I am a hermit, somewhat a black sheep and I feel wronged by some events that have skewed my vision of what the world can be.

    My perspective has been greatly distorted but your writing and accompanying videos have helped spark a flame albeit a small one. Thank you.


    1. Andi, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do hope that small flame keeps growing for you. Please do come again….

  3. Øyvind says:

    Great article and an interesting read. I believe that most fear comes from a lack of everything this article is presenting. Too many fear the unfamiliar and choose to act on their fear, and even get hostile instead of understanding the opposite. Trying to see things from another perspective and learning new things, being deliberate gives you power over your own personal charisma, and internal happiness.

    1. Hey Oyvind…thanks for your visit and your comments. Please do come again….

  4. Yes, I totally agree. How can anyone progress, at whatever age, when they refuse to ‘get out there’? It doesn’t have to be anything terrifying. It could just be eating Indian some night instead of Chinese. Or taking your dog for a walk along a road you might never have gone before. Sure why the heck not? It’s not at all scary. Just to let you know, your second video is coming up (for me anyway) as Unavailable. Great post. Inspirational. I hope people take from it and learn from it 🙂

    1. Hey Jyl:  Thanks so much for your visit and for giving me the heads-up about the “Lets Look at the World a Little Differently” video.  I was bummed.  It’s a good ‘un.  I found another version of the thing and it works now!  Enjoy!

      Please do come again….

  5. I really enjoyed reading about your point of view.  I am a creature of habit and it would definitely be good for me to sometimes venture out of my comfort zone.  You are so right.  The 30 days challenges are so abundant these days.  Why do you think that the 30 day challenges are so attractive to people?

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Alisha.

      I think the 30-day challenge things are a great way to jump-start an intention to change.  

      The best thing about them, I am finding, is if you use them as a way to test the waters (and not as something else to beat yourself up about), by the end of a week you will pretty much know whether you want to continue doing this new thing or not.  

      If not, you haven’t invested a heck of a lot of psychic energy on the thing and can go do something else instead.  There are always more 30-day challenges, after all.  (Hee!)

      Please do come again….

  6. This is a good look at how we become stuck in our lives because we fail to try the unknown, fear adventure and the thoughts and understanding about us and what is possible remains frozen. 

    I agree. If we want different outcomes then we have to be open to trying new things.  I would like to travel all around the world just to experience other cultures first hand, but I have just not gotten around to that yet. 

    I smiled when I read your poem, because I live on an island and our way of life is so different from the big city inhabitants. 

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. JJ, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      It does seem to be a truth that people who live on continents often don’t understand the way people who live on islands think.  Maybe it’s ’cause they’ve got so much SPACE to run away from the consequences of unthinking actions and inappropriate behavior.  

      One of the things islanders say to each other is this:  “This is a small island!”  It’s a lot harder to be a hard-ass when the one you’re being mean to might be related to someone who could adversely affect your life.

      Please do come again….

  7. Andrew Smith says:

    Hi there, I just stumbled upon your article and had to drop you a line or two to say thanks. 

    I’m a big believer in the law of attraction and today I found your article just when I needed to. You see, recently I’ve been having some mental health issues and one thing that I have started to learn is that sometimes what we perceive isn’t actual reality. 

    Sometimes we humans can get things wrong, but that’s also what makes us beautiful. Right now I am trying to make some big changes in my life and I really found this post quite inspiring. 

    I love the CCTV video and I also feel quite motivated to try a 30-day challenge after this!

    Many thanks,


    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Andrew.  I am really glad that you feel the post has helped you.  

      Keep on going, dude!  My own feeling is that if you keep yourself open and receptive to what the world is showing you and you work on seeing what-is more clearly, then you get better able to move in ways that work better for you.  

      It takes time and it takes effort, but it is so worth it!  You go!

      And please do come again….

  8. Wow thank you for sharing your thoughts, perspectives, and beautiful poetry.

    Here in my home state of Texas we have many people moving in from other places as well and when I hear any of them complaining about it I always think, “you are more than welcome to go back home!”. I could never imagine moving some place and then having the nerve to complain about the place that I chose to go to.

    I know that wasn’t the main focus of the article but just had to vent!

    I loved the videos and the whole concept of finding a new way of seeing things, thank you so much.

    I hope one day I can visit your beautiful island, if I should ever be so lucky, you won’t hear me complaining about a single thing!

    1. Randi, I do so hear ya!  I hope you get your wish and can come see us!  Bet you’ll like it!

      Please do come again….

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