I have recently returned from a few days vacation in Norfolk, UK with my wife and daughter. She is nearly six years old and I spent a good deal of time watching her. It reminds me of how we can lose our ability to notice life. It is so easy to be focused on work and such like, and fail to observe joyful life passing us by.
So on the last couple of mornings, I walked to the beach with our dog and stood for a time. Pausing to drink in with each and every sensation what was about. It is easy to concentrate on what we see but I also focused on what I could feel – the wind on my face. How cool was it? How fast did it feel? Then, what sounds could I hear? Birds, waves, a plane overhead, grass in the wind, sand in my hand, the weight of a pebble, the crunch of feet on sands/pebbles, and of course the waves. Children playing in the distance and finally my dog barking, wanting me to throw the ball! All this before looking & observing with my eyes.
Visually I started in the distance & moved closer gradually. The clouds scurrying across the sky with different shades of white/grey and blue sky in between. I read somewhere that a tribe in Africa have numerous names for the different colours of sky blue. A container ship on the horizon moving slowly. The distant wind farm with the turbine blades lazily turning in apparent randomness together. The waves bobbing without any white tops until the reached the shore. The wet pebbles/sand where the waves had reached followed by yellow/golden sand sprinkled with numerous pebbles. All smooth apart from the few broken pieces of flint, razor sharp, like shards of glass. Dried seaweed drifting up the beach in the wind, prompting me to notice the smell.
I skipped taste just in case anyone saw me with my tongue hanging out licking pebbles! It takes some mindful skills to keep on track and not let the mind wander off into thoughts of our busy life. I spent a minute or two with a breathing exercise. I was amazed at how much more rich my inner descriptions of all this was afterwards.
This is how we use to observe what is around us when we are young. Familiarity and the business of life blunt our ability to experience the same again unless we keep and hone our observational skills. So next time you are out and about this week, take 5 minutes out to stop, observe and wonder.