Before going for a walk on Sunday, I read something interesting in the Sunday papers which inspired me. The author Angela Mollard, who writes in the U on Sunday magazine was lamenting the writers block she suffers as she struggles to write her national column every week without making reference to boring surveys or Christopher Pyne (a politician) or the things her kids do.
And then a journalist friend gave her some sage advice: “Mmmmm … ” she said “we need to learn to notice harder.” Wow! NOTICE HARDER eh? So that’s the secret.
Angela was inspired by this advice and in taking it, she set out to notice simple pleasures that she had been too busy to notice before … like discovering her stubborn lemon tree had “quietly produced it’s first fruit”; enjoying the feel of her pillowcase against her cheek and laughing at her cheeky kitten. Such simple things. The Buddhists might call it ‘Mindfulness‘ others refer to it as ‘The Slow Movement’ but you get the idea?
Therefore, I decided to take her advice as I set out for my walk later in the day. Yes, I would notice harder.
You see, there is something special about a sunny Sunday when you have oodles of time for doing whatever you like yet you chose to go for a nice long walk around your district. Now, I enjoyed myself so much on last Sunday’s walk complete with photos (https://tessross.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/choosing-between-the-two-solstices/) that I decided to walk most Sundays as part of my exercise routine and take photos again of the experience.
However, this time I determined I would NOTICE HARDER.
As I walked down the end of my street, I wondered which way I would walk this week. It occurred to me that I have several very interesting options for walks. This realisation hit me because I have always thought that walking in my area was boring but with my new resolves, new thoughts were coming to me. I identified at least four different interesting walks … all of them containing some areas of mystery and intrigue as part of their charm. I’ll be walking them in coming Sundays. Okay then, let’s get started …
This Sunday I decided to turn left instead of right at the end of my street. This would take me eventually to a path which winds up a hill through the bush. On one side are the walls of buildings in an industrial estate and on the other are the backyards of houses along the path. You then come out on a road which leads to a large shopping centre.
The buildings had the usual graffiti scribbled all over them. One never knows what these etchings mean but they do add an eerie feel to the place. One would never dream of walking this path at night time. Who knows what or who might be lurking in those bushes?
With this in mind and with my imagination working overtime, I picked up a good sized limb of a tree that had fallen and as I walked along, I used it as a staff. I wanted to be prepared in case I met any unsavoury people (even though it was the middle of the day!) A serious walker did pass by and he was fully tuned in to his music; far from accosting me, he nodded in a friendly gesture as he passed me by. So much for needing protection … I felt like one of those pilgrims who walk the Camino in Spain!
It had been at least six years since I had walked this path and I was surprised at how much things had changed since that time. There was more rubbish, like this discarded hubcap lying forlorn in the grass. I drew closer to take a photo with my phone wondering what the hubcap story was and if it had been stolen and then discarded later.
Surprisingly, there was also bromeliads growing here and there … granted they were a bit rough and ready but nevertheless there they were … a large area of them. Had someone dumped them here at some stage and they had just dug their roots in and bloomed where they were placed? Bromeliads in the bush … interesting?
Puffing and panting I reached the top of the hill on the path and came out onto the main road. As I turned and walked along the footpath, I came across a Child Care Centre complete with this delightful sign outside which took my fancy. “Behind every great kid is a great kindy. What a lovely slogan for a kindergarten I thought! And as I continued on my way, I mulled on it … hoping that the little blurb did in fact match the greatness of the centre. One has to be very sure of oneself to put such a slogan on a sign!
It was when I reached the half-way mark that I began to feel tired … bone weary tired and I wished I was almost home. ‘What was I thinking coming all this way on a Sunday afternoon?’ I muttered to myself. Thoughts of Geoff dozing in front of the TV came into focus. I must have been crazy not to join him. The hardest part was, our house was very close … but fences prevented me from reaching it!
Once our back neighbour had a gate that allowed us to go through to our house in the street below but oh, how times had changed! These neighbours were long gone now and on their property, now subdivided, sat not one, but three houses behind each other. I had no option but to keep going the long way around to my home. “Notice harder” said my mind so I kept on plodding along and decided that if I could stop thinking about the heaviness of my legs and concentrate on the beauty of the day, I might just feel better … so I tried it. It worked! I made a point of stopping to admire winter flowers or at one spot the remaining autumn leaves left on a very bare tree. I felt empowered as I studied the tree.
And then before I knew it, I was at the bottom of our street. Thank goodness for that! It was then that I ‘noticed’ with new eyes, this rustic little seat in a familiar garden. It was very tempting not to jump over the plants and plonk myself down on this seat and sit awhile. However, I could hear talking somewhere and I never fancied the owners finding me sitting – or like Goldilocks in the fairy tale – finding me asleep amongst the bushes. That would be too bizarre.
When I was three doors from my house, I ‘noticed’ this delightful rock in a neighbour’s front garden. I had gone on this walk to be observant and to notice the things around me and so I was looking for delight wasn’t I? This made my day! I realised that the end of my walk was in sight.
Oh yes, it was the perfect way to end my Sunday walk: “LIFE IS BETTER WITH FRIENDS.” With this thought running through my head and my heart, I walked through the front door and was so glad to be home. Here was my best friend – my husband – waiting for me in front of the TV. He smiled at me. I could see that he was glad I was back. Yes indeed, life is better with friends … you just have to take the time to NOTICE that this is so.