I was driving to the local supermarket a couple of days ago. I was particularly tired as my youngest son had been at the hospital most of the night, and as I came around the roundabout, I noticed for the first time the great fig tree that sat in the centre of the roundabout. I had driven, walked, and ridden this way hundreds of times but I had never seen this great tree. How many other wonders have I missed? What other magic exists right under our noses, yet we just do not see them as we go about our busy lives?
I was reminded of an occurrence at work a few weeks ago. My work car’s engine had blown up a hundred or so kilometres out in the desert and I had been forced to catch a lift with one of the other work crews back to the camp. I sat in the back of the truck looking out, enraptured out of the big windows at the landscape that I had driven through every day. As a driver, my consciousness had been mostly filled with the rutted track, but as a passenger, my mind was free to look to the side noting the spinifex in its lush wet season coat of green. As we forwarded through the water running lazily through the culverts under the track, instead of looking ahead for hidden washouts, I looked down the streams, catching glimpses of transient tropical worlds. It is hard to describe just how wondrous it is to drive (or walk) somewhere you have been thousands of times before, and yet for it to suddenly bloom with a beauty you had missed until that moment.
Perhaps I am the only one this happens to, yet somehow, I doubt it. Perhaps our everyday world is filled with wonder, yet we are so busy that most of it escapes our eyes. If this is so, then what a waste of life, what joys do we miss in our relentless rushing and desperate attempts to save a few moments of time?
Perhaps we need to slow down a little, wave the car in front through, take a meandering walk, let someone else drive, or even just sit quietly outside for a while without our phones. Maybe then we will notice the little birds playing, the beehives hidden in the trees, the smiles of the drivers unexpectedly allowed to go on their way. Maybe then, as Antoine de Saint Exupéry talks of in the ‘Wind, Sand and Stars’, we too will see our world bloom as the “earth (is) at once a desert and a paradise, rich in secret hidden gardens, gardens inaccessible, but to which the craft leads us ever back, one day or another.”
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