Rocco, my furry companion and I walk everyday. We head out anywhere between 6:45-7:15 and stroll the neighborhood for about a half hour. Rain or shine, frigid or stifling, winter, spring, summer or fall. Every day.
Today, another beautiful, premature autumn day arrived casting long, dark shadows and chilling the air with an invigorating breeze. The sunlight danced through the hemlocks which breathed in chorus with the jays, the starlings, the cardinals, the finches, the crickets and of course, the last of the cicadas. It was simply a stunningly beautiful morning. I am grateful to live in a place that offers a cornucopia of delights so pleasing to the eyes, the ears, the skin and in turn, the soul....and all just outside our front door. Ancient, mammoth oaks now spilling meaty, capped acorns all along the road...towering tulip poplars...time worn stone walls and slate roofs covered in carpets of rich, green moss...meadows of wildflowers where butterflies and goldfinches gorge themselves...story high leggy, rhododendrons...community gardens overflowing with late summer harvests...an elderly weeping willow hovering over the pond where monstrous frogs and brilliant, orange koi swim...red tailed and cooper hawks ride the thermals high above, graceful spiders weave their elaborate webs...grey heron, kingfishers, fox, deer, raccoon, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, snakes, all reside here. All this and countless more lives being lived...all within this domain that stretches merely five blocks. Yes...five blocks...a half a mile from the city of Philadelphia.
It occurred to me this morning, as it has many times, how truly spectacular this little corner of the world is. One of the best parts of it is how each day can be so different from the one before. Every morning is unique and magnificent and has the opportunity to create something new and engaging within us. It simply takes new eyes.
Like many aspects of life, including relationships, walking these five blocks can appear repetitive and even boring. It is in the seeing, that we can be awakened to all the subtle changes occurring everyday and all around us. It is in our awareness, that we may notice those fine changes...in the slight tints of the leaves, the scent of the air, the calls of certain birds, the flight patterns of the geese, the length of shadows across the lawn, the lines on our faces, the new tenderness of a touch, the unsolicited apology from a teen daughter. All changes that can so easily be missed when we are lost in our own heads and preoccupied in our congested minds. Life's worries and frustrations can cloud even the most beautiful experiences that sit right there before us. Sometimes it helps approaching the place or relationship in an unfamiliar way. Previously unnoticed things or qualities can be revived by just looking at it from a different perspective. Riding a bike through the same streets you've been driving through for years, suddenly brings to life a new garden, a new strength, a new personal connection. The same 9 year old walk or ride around the neighborhood can still introduce a new neighbor, build a new relationship, inspire a new piece of art, launch a new interest, cultivate a new understanding. Seeing a partner of almost 30 years in a new circumstance can rekindle an old friendship. I have found that simply choosing to see the world in each moment with new eyes can transform and enrich our lives as much, and perhaps more significantly, than most big shifts and momentous changes. Enjoy looking!
"Attention determines our degree of intimacy with our ordinary experiences and contours our entire sense of connection to life" - Sharon Salzberg Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation