Now that we are home from our round-the-world travels, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about maintaining a tourist’s viewpoint.
I am trying to preserve that feeling of wonder, and the relaxed feeling of having time to look — at building façades and their details as I walk to work, at the people passing by, at the landscape that is home. A daily commute on familiar paths can make it difficult to keep that kind of wonderment at the surface.
Repetition kills insight. It can dampen down the unexpected. But it also opens up new vistas: As I have been walking on streets that I usually bike, or pass on a bus, I’ve seen new shops, new architectural flourishes, all sorts of interesting things I’d been missing, and that I now get to see with each repeated walk.
I’ve been considering if this is just part of mindfulness practice: of being aware of every step you take, of breathing. Taking the time to look and see and feel and notice, yourself and the world around you.
I have also found myself wondering: have smart mobile phones helped some of us recapture our desire to see new things and share? For those of us stuck at home, a phone and a chat partner somewhere else makes for the opportunity to snap the odd photo, of a weird billboard, a dog and its owner, a rare car… a way to keep playing tourist. (Unless, of course, you are totally plugged into your phone for texting-phoning-reading-whatnot, and you are neglecting to *look* at the world around you as you walk down the street, plugged in.)
I pass the Royal Palace on my walks to work, and the parliament and boats and old buildings that once served as merchant centers at the harbor; I pass a major art auction house, an art restoration atelier, cafés, banks, parks. I am trying to keep looking with new eyes, and to keep sharing. It’s amazing that I ever get to work…