I think I was in sixth grade when it suddenly hit me how amazing sight was. I was looking at something very normal, like leaves on a tree, and I thought, "They are green, and the wood is brown. Isn't cool that I can sense that?"
At that point I probably realized I brought the wrong homework or wore two different colored socks. Or whatever. Real life intervened and the wonder of sight drifted away.
Years and years later, I went with my husband to the incredible art museum in Chicago. There was a painting in the Impressionist section of a few boats lying on a pebbly beach near the sea. A few people walked off in the distance. The sky was a bit dark, and you could just tell a storm was coming.
I don't know why that picture grabbed me so. My husband and friends walked on, and I stayed there, entranced. I could hear the steps of the people as they waked on that stony shore. Their footsteps would crunch on the rocks. There would be a smell of brine and water, and the wind would whip your face with a few drops from the incoming storm.
At that point, sight became more than sight. It was another world.
Sometimes paintings that do that for me. They open a window into an alternate universe and offer something that isn't always pretty - sometimes it is quite ugly - but it is alive. For that moment, it lives, and I experience what the painter saw.
I love that.