I’ve committed to waking up to the beauty and inspiration all around me. Far too often I notice I’m sleepwalking through life, going through the necessary motions of getting exercise, eating, trying to get enough sleep, writing, e-mailing, planning for the future, remembering to text or call friends, making sure the kids and husband are okay, watching Netflix and so on.
But when I really begin to pay attention, the minutia of existence falls away, just for a little, and I’m able to function in a different, more beautiful dimension.
On Monday, I dropped Ava at her dance class and stopped at Save-On for some groceries. As I pulled into a parking spot, Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender” came on the radio, so as all self-respecting people of a certain age would do, I pumped up the volume (see what I did there?) and stayed in the car until the song was over.
This gave me a chance to sing and look out the windshield for the brief interlude of one fantastic 80s song. Dusk was just beginning to descend, so the sky was that intense shade of blue, like the ocean after a storm. Clouds perforated the landscape, creating visual interest and texture.
Across from me was an old minivan, with the back hatch open. A young, bearded man sat there, reading a beat-up paperback book and stroking the soft head of an ancient dog lying with his head in the man’s lap. The scene was so gentle, intimate and stirring, it restored my hope and my focus. Watching for two minutes took me out of my harried modern world and restored me to myself.
Ava worked this weekend on a short film and on Saturday morning her set was a small park in North Vancouver. While the cast and crew blocked a complicated fight scene, my attention drifted to a dad pushing his eighteen-month-old daughter on a baby swing a few feet away. He stood in front of her and pretended she kicked him in the stomach every time the swing came forward. He said, “Ooof!” with a mock pained expression and the baby laughed every single time.
This game went on for about ten minutes. He never once glanced at his cell phone or seemed bored. He was utterly dialled in and present with her. Simply observing the connection between the two of them gave me an enormous lump in my throat.
Beauty is everywhere. I’m determined to create more of those moments in my own life. To stop rushing and to savour instead. To slow, to rest, to be enough, to cease hustling and proving. To recognize that success is how we define it and not what anyone else thinks or says.
Time is fleeting. Petting a dog while the sun sets or soaking up the giggles of your beloved child are worthwhile, important pursuits.
More beauty, less rushing. Awareness makes these gifts possible. They are right there, ours for the taking, with the power to change us for the better.