I simply ask because it’s so easy to go through our days lulled by routine. You may have risen from your bed this morning, showered and had breakfast, gone to work, come home and retired, ready to do it all again. But … were you really awake?
Recent events have made me take stock. This business of living a life can’t be taken for granted. I can see that sometimes the familiar, although comforting, numbs my senses, lulling me into a state of dulled-awareness. I hear, but don’t always listen, I see, but often fail to look. I experience, but forget to reflect.
This condition is common enough, not at all exotic, and certainly not terminal. For me the solution is simple. I actively decide to be mindful.
And … I walk.
Our brains are stimulated by novelty. My walks around the neighbourhood give context to my tiny space, offering up new ideas and increased appreciation. I take note of difference, register shifts in my surroundings like those wrought by the change of seasons, which make old vistas fresh and new. The jacaranda trees, while attractive throughout the year, are gob-smackingly spectacular now. I am always astonished to see how many of them there are. How could I have failed to notice until that haze of purple appears, under which, carpets of purple blossoms whisper at my feet as I walk through the drifts?
But in the absence of novelty? When familiarity desensitises us to our surroundings, we need to look at them differently, say through the eyes of a child, the lens of a camera, or with conscious and mindful intent, to re-ignite the wonder.
I love seeing the photos and reading blogs set in exotic locations. What is ‘exotic’ but the allure of the unfamiliar, appealing to our human attraction to novelty? My location might be thought of as exotic to someone on the other side of the world; perhaps in a snowy landscape less exotic to them because it’s familiar. Surely then, it’s a question of perception, of being aware?
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
So I embraced the lure of the exotic, resisted the somnambulance of the familiar and looked at my world with wide-awake eyes, those of my grandchildren, my blogging community, and the camera lens on my walks. And in the process, I discovered an exotic new world to appreciate, not just visual but also attitudinal.
Maybe there’s an exotic new me behind this familiar facade? How about you?