Keeping My Eyes Open

I never thought the day would come when Classical Civilization would make it onto my blog!

It is the study of Ancient world politics, and in my first year of study it is based on the Ancient Greek period between 800BC and 400BC. A bit too ancient for me most of the time I must say! However I learnt something useful today. Not in the way that would be perhaps more helpful for my Ancient Greek study, but rather I learnt something important about life in general.

I’d been putting off an essay for two whole weeks, and this resulted in me having to do it in the morning in a free period before my lesson in the afternoon. I had two hours so it wasn’t rushed, but I can’t say I was particularly enthralled by being stuck in the library all that time. And my pen broke about twenty times (no exaggeration)! I got it done and I put it into my folder, and then off I marched to my lesson with a friend of mine, Heather. We both sat down feeling particularly pleased with ourselves for getting it done (finally), especially as only half the class had managed it. But, unfortunately, we had made a monumental error. Me and Heather had done the essay yes, but we hadn’t bothered to read the sources at the top of the page, using our memory and carefully compiled revision notes of Aristotle to write our answers. We had done it wrong. The question had in fact not been on Aristotle, but rather on The Old Oligarch. We’d read the sub-questions and answered them, but hadn’t bothered paying attention to what, in the end, affected everything.

So that was a waste of two hours right? Well yes and no. Yes: my essay will get a pretty low mark (but thankfully it was only a practice essay). No: I learnt my lesson. To read the question properly!

Life’s like that I think. We pay attention to so many bits and pieces, but often we’ll miss something that’s the most important of all, because we’ll be too busy doing something else. And maybe we use our previous knowledge because it’s easier and less time-consuming then having to find out more.
Often we walk back from our work or from the local shops or from a visit to a friend’s house in the cold with our hands thrust into our pockets, marching along as fast as possible. But if we slow the pace and look at everything around us, turn our eyes heavenward and gaze upon the sky and the stars, the colours in the clouds, shades of blue (or of grey) which change all the time, we see beauty.
If we stop avoiding eye contact with strangers walking past to avoid ‘awkwardness’, we must look at one another and smile. See our brothers’ and sisters’ faces, and in a passing moment see into the life of another, the soul within the body. That smile can change a person’s day. That look can make a person cheerier, make them happier.

The small picture, the essay without the source questions, lets us live our lives and get everything basic sorted. But it is only when we read the whole text, when we look at everything around us, finding the love and beauty, that we may truly accomplish a great day, experience fantastic moments, and come alive.

I’ll remember to read the whole question next time! And to look around me. Everything in the world has importance. Everything from God’s creation carries God’s breath, God’s life. Keeping my eyes open…

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