A beautiful Illinois prairie path awaits just a 10-minute walk from the front door of our home. Early this past spring, the prairie’s endless paths and undeniable convenience left me with little excuse from making a commitment to exercise several times a week by taking extended walks through the prairie. The fact that my long-time business coach, Mark LeBlanc, was over in Spain walking the 500-mile Camino over 30 days … for the third time … didn’t help one bit either.
The commitment turned out to be more than I expected.
Putting on my running shoes to walk, repetitively across the week, demanded its own new discipline. On most days, the initial 90-minute walks tended to seem long as I dragged myself across the seemingly sameness that blanketed the fields. The limestone pathways winded their way through what would be pulled as weeds in any other setting.
The commitment to walking kept me putting one step in front of the other … week after week. The discipline itself became easier … no longer a chore, but rather a treat to go. It felt good and I felt better each time I returned. It was months into this repetitive discipline, when I stepped out my front door into a classic 80-degree sunny August Chicago afternoon. Fifteen minutes later, I was well on my way mindlessly making strides across the sameness. That was until I noticed something.
The sameness had changed.
In fact, even similar things stood unique. As my feet kept moving, my eyes kept shifting from one unique life-form to another. I marveled at how these “weeds” had become an endless bouquet of flowers. The variety was endless. Some bordered on works of abstract art. It was now my feet, rather than my eyes, that were mindlessly moving.
I should have known better. After 3 retinal detachments over a decade, I have always said … “when you must keep your eyes closed for several days, it’s amazing what you’ll see!” It’s amazing what you start to notice.
The same holds true when you open your eyes and notice what has been in front of you all along. In a world of electronic overload, we need fewer reminders … fewer notifications.
Instead we need to notice more.
We need to notice the thing we’ve seen a thousand times … and see it again for the first time. Recently, I was visiting with a friend. He shared the story of his younger brother who has lived on a tiny island for three decades. He had asked his brother if he ever got bored seeing the same thing day after day … year after year. He said his brother immediately replied … every day I see something new. That’s what happens when you notice.
When you put yourself on-notice “clumps of weeds” turn into bouquets, “numb relationships” evolve into friendships and “mundane experiences” transform into adventures.
My walks and everything along them were never the same again.
Helen Keller’s response to the simple question, “Is there anything worse than being blind?” was quite insightful. She simply responded, “Yes. Being able to see and having no vision.” Yet, when you put yourself “on-notice” each and every day … you bring-to-life all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and feel.
I know it sounds so simple. It’s hard to explain how something so simple can change everything … or maybe better put, allows you to see what hasn’t changed in a new way.
Because you have changed.
I challenge you in the next few days to do something very routine while putting yourself on-notice. I would love to hear what you discover … or what discovers you! I can’t wait to notice, below, what you share!