Awareness and curiosity

It is sometimes amazing how little we see. Think of a street you walk down daily: Can you recall what trees or flowers grow on this street? How about the colours or designs of the houses? For most of us, there are some details to which we pay attention, but others to which we are completely oblivious. For example, we may recall the make and model of every car parked on our street, but have no clue whether a front yard contains a garden gnome. Or perhaps we remember every bus-stop advertisement on the street, but cannot recall if the trees are blossoming. Of course, remembering these details is not necessarily important, but it is still useful to see whether we can. This provides insight into what goes through our heads as we walk down these streets. Are we absorbed in thought and oblivious to our surroundings? Do we filter most things out, perhaps only noticing the advertisements and sales in a store window? Or are we one of those rare people who takes curiosity in our surroundings, generally being aware of everything?

Consciously paying attention to what is around us is a wonderful exercise. It pulls us out of our heads for a moment and gives us a break from the stresses of the day. For those of us who spend our days processing papers or staring at computers, a walk down the street is a time to receive a much wider range of visual stimuli. Unfortunately many of us waste this opportunity by remaining stuck in our heads. Furthermore, for those of us who do look around, our eyes are often drawn naturally to text – such as signs and advertisements – and thus remain constricted to a narrow range of stimuli.

Hence, the practice of awareness is refreshing. Furthermore, it is interesting. We can spot things, even on our home street, that we never noticed before. Living this way puts us in a  constant state of discovery, adding a sense of wonder and enthusiasm to our lives.

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