What do you see? How do you see it? And how do you react to what you see? Do you view the world from a narrow perspective, one governed by your beliefs, your own limited personal experiences? Or do you view the world without blinders? Without filters?
You may have seen horses, race horses or carriage horses, with blinders on. This is done to prevent the horse from seeing something that may startle it and cause it to spook and run away. The horse is being “protected” from sights it may not be accustomed to. Does this really provide safety and security to the horse, the rider, the passenger? Personally, having spent a lot of time around horses, I don’t think so. It is my belief that the horse, the rider, the passenger is far more safe if some time is spent desensitizing the horse to things it may be frightened of. How? By patiently and frequently exposing the horse to new sights, sounds, and stimuli while providing the horse with a sense of security through a calm voice, a patient hand and confident leadership (not force).
We are not much different. That which scares us is often because we know little about it, have little experience or exposure to it. We have been protected from these things, either by ourselves, or by how we were raised, or by who we spend time with. How tragic.
The world is so full of sensory input, of possibilities and experiences. It is so incredibly exciting! But so many of us miss so much. All of that input, those possibilities, those experiences bring us an opportunity to grow, to learn, to evolve. Sadly, if we slog through life with blinders on we deny ourselves of so much. So, spend some time patiently and frequently exposing yourself to new sights, sounds and stimuli, both ordinary and extraordinary.
Try this; find a place to sit, have a cup of coffee or a refreshing beverage in a public spot, take your blinders off and just look around. Look at people, notice what they wear, how they walk, how they speak, what they say and how they interact with people around them. Observe your surroundings, the colors, the shapes, the textures, patterns, lines. Take in the sights, the sounds. Try food you’ve never tried before. Involve all the senses. Keep your mind neutral, try not to make judgements. This is something that may take practice, but soon you may find yourself smiling at what you observe. We are surrounded by so much, big things, little things, that can make us joyous if we only pay attention.
I am currently sitting in a coffee shop in an airport. I arrived a couple of hours before my daughter’s flight was due to land so I could enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up on some work, away from the too familiar walls of my office. An airport employee just walked past with a box on a handcart, headed for the gift shop across the way. Sticking out of the box were a pair of golden mannequin legs, toes pointed upward. I laughed out loud, it brought me just a little bit of joy, the absurdity of what I observed. I can guarantee that no one else even saw this spectacle. I have opened myself up to these observations because I find humor in them, which makes me smile, and sometimes even laugh. Little bits of joy in an otherwise ordinary and mundane day. Embrace what you observe, but first, you have to observe, in real life, real time.
I just returned from vacation, earlier this morning, actually. My plane arrived at this very airport about twelve hours ago. I have since been home and have now returned to retrieve my daughter. My vacation was splendid and was spent pretty much just living from someone else’s perspective. I was in Alaska. Not on a cruise. Not on some organized tour with a planned itinerary, but visiting my very special man. I just occupied his life for a week, went to the grocery store, shoveled snow off the roof of the garage, went to his shop where he works, went out to lunch via snow machine rather than by road. He had an opportunity to pilot an oversize load of pipe to Prudhoe Bay, and while this is something he does frequently, to me, it was an opportunity for a new and thrilling experience. How many of you have been to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in late winter? Far above the Arctic Circle? Many have seen this on television, but have you felt the cold air in the morning? Heard the trucks pass by with their massive loads on the icy roadway? Stood waiting to get a hot cup of coffee behind a man who spends his day working in the oil fields? Slept in a “sleeper” in the back of a truck? Seen an Arctic fox running along the ice covered road? Listened to the banter of truckers on the radio while driving up and down the Dalton Highway? To many, this is everyday life, and what we do on a daily basis may be unusual, unique, and different. We all have a different perspective and, my point is, when given the chance to view one different than your own, jump at it. My life will forever be changed, even if only slightly, from having had that experience.
I could have turned down this opportunity. Two whole days of sitting in a noisy truck, enduring the discomfort, the cold, no hot shower, blow dryer, curling iron, make up, hot food, the time constraint, the possible danger. I chose otherwise and cherish the experience. I have stories to tell and while I sit at my computer reviewing training materials this week for the proper size font, grammar and formatting, while boring and tedious, I only have to reflect back to last week to know that my life is truly extraordinary. Because I choose to make it so. And I implore you to do the same.
My message here, in short, is to step out of your own perspective for a while and into others. See life from a new place, without blinders. Experience it fully, with every sense, absorb those experiences and let them alter your own perspective a little. Embrace change, challenge fear, be your own patient guide to new stimuli. Live life without blinders.