Most of my time outdoors today was a 1.2 mile walk up the road and back down. Meandering very slowly. The eyes alert for freshness, for newness, for interesting plants and animals and leaves. The camera singing its audible click as it captured image after image. (I am still in shock realizing the last camera took over 8,000 photos in less than ten months.)
I pondered how everyone would see different things on the same walk on the road. One person’s glance would linger on the vibrant tree leaves. The colors are now past “peak”, but individual trees still gush amazing colors.
Another person, focused on a different perspective, might notice the dried plants and flowers with their brown ragged edges. Every once in a while a still-blooming flower presents itself, like a breath of fresh air. A lone scraggly purple lupine. The round wheel of Queen Anne’s Lace. Perhaps a white splash of yarrow.
If we wore each other’s moccasins, would we see the same things? Would our gaze travel different places, different heights, different angles? We become so accustomed to looking in the same old way.
What if we vowed to look with “fresh” eyes each day, looking for magic? Would we see more acutely, with more expansion, with more depth?
I remember, as a teenager (heck, what am I talking about? As an adult as well) being so locked in the mental world of my thoughts that the natural world seemed almost invisible. There was rarely a thrill of truly seeing the flower, truly being present to individual petals and stamens and color and stem.
At age eleven or twelve, downstairs in my childhood basement I found a book about awareness. It taught you how to truly see things, how to train yourself to be present and perceptive. I remember doing the exercises and going outside to marvel in new-found abilities to see. I remember thinking this was the magic key, the big secret of the universe. But then forgetting the secret completely for many many years…
Does anyone else hold a memory of wearing glasses for the first time? After months or years of really not seeing the world, you place the glasses over your eyes. And, lo and behold, miracle of miracle, you can see! The world clicks into focus. I can remember staring up at our apple orchard trees and breathing in awe, “There are leaves! Look at the leaves!” You never forget that moment when you can first see again, when everything comes into exquisite focus.
Not only does our sight often remain limited, we often get used to thinking in the same ways. Walking the same trails. The same roads. Wearing the same shoes or boots. We become jaded and caught in patterns.
How often do we continue to think our way is the “right” way, the correct way, the only way? How often do we simply let go of our pre-conceived notions and let the newness and mystery of life teach us, as if we were still impressionable children? Open, eager, not knowing the answers…and looking breathlessly at the beauty which surrounds us everywhere.
How often do we leave the pavement and venture onto gravel roads, onto unknown territory? How often do we leave the roads completely and wander along woodland paths? How often do we leave the well-trodden path and blaze into unfamiliar forests?
The pavement ends here. We have a choice. Which direction shall we go?