Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Look Up

I was walking along Amsterdam Avenue recently, taking notice of all of the store fronts now covered with brown paper and masking tape. A large "retail space for rent" sign hangs prominently on too many doors these days. I kept wondering how we slipped so far so fast, how in a matter of days and weeks businesses are opening and then shuttering their days. Less than two years ago I moved to the Upper West Side, grateful for an apartment under $2000, no store front left unoccupied. On what used to be one of the busiest blocks, 5 spaces are now available.

Equal parts nervous and confused, I was preoccupied with the state of our economy. And then a man and a woman whom I had passed in a rush had a 10 second conversation that made me almost stop in my tracks. The man said, "Oh look at that! The stone work on that building is beautiful. Have you ever seen that before?" "No," she replied. "In all the time I've lived here I've never noticed it." I looked up. I'd never noticed it either. And it is beautiful - cerulean blue, grass green, sunny yellow, and bright orange. How could I have been missing that magnificent splash of color all this time? I guess I've been looking down too often.

Sometimes it takes people new to a situation to help us see clearly. We are in such a rush, so used to our surroundings, that we often don't see the beauty right in front of us, or above us as the case may be. We become so lost in our thoughts and concerns, that we miss out on what's happening all around us.

We're exposed to so many signals and messages and images with every step, that our mind has to filter just to stay somewhat organized. This filtering sometimes causes us to miss out on things that could and should bring us some amount of joy and happiness. I am a firm believer that eventually we will always find what we're looking for. The flip side of that is that if we aren't looking for something, we may not find it on our own. It often takes someone else's perspective and experience to wake us up to the life we're walking through.

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