Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
– excerpt from "Sometimes," by Mary Oliver
My friend Sherrie wrote about noticing today. She is a first-class noticer, with a wide-ranging eye and a thoughtful approach to the world. She also happens to live in a very beautiful part of the province, and her daily commutes take her past stunning beaches, wide-open ocean views and rolling hills. I love seeing glimpses of her days.
My daily commute starts in a dog park, takes me to a mall parking lot, and then wends its way through an industrial park – not quite as inspiring. But I still put my noticing skills to work.
It's tempting to get caught up in the unsavoury details: the scurf of crumpled transfers and sidewalk salt on the floor of the bus, the faint whiff of mildew and stale cooking fat, the snatches of overheard arguments. But there are reasons to smile: the two awkward teenagers, flirting over their math notes; the young boy playing peek-a-boo with a baby in a bunny hat. The unrestrained joy of the skateboarder who hops off the bus and onto his board and skims across the early-morning-empty parking lot, feigning hands-in-pockets nonchalance.
Outside, look up – stand at the traffic lights, waiting for your turn to cross, and watch the clouds scud across the sky. Watch the ravens as they stream across the Bedford Basin – they fly east in the morning, west again at night, heading home to roost. Watch the way the traffic lights shimmer when they're reflected in the puddles (because it's raining yet again). Here's the forsythia hedge by the high school, suddenly tinged with yellow, sign of hope; here's the wild rose bush, an oasis in a parking lot.
God (or something good) is in the details. Pay attention to the very very big things, and the very very small ones. Get up close; drop your mittens, drop your bags, hunker down. Muddy knees don't matter; the season's first snow drops do.