We’re experiencing unseasonal snow at the moment. It’s unusual activity for this time of year and today it got me thinking.
As with this snow and lengthy winter, somethings things do carry on longer than we expect them to. A project takes longer than we thought, or a journey. We’ll stay in a friendship or a relationship or a job longer than we intended. Longer than we thought we would. Things don’t always happen as we expect, or as we think they ‘should’.
This snow is interesting, too; we’re noticing it because it’s not how it ‘should’ be. Do we notice things as much when they are as they ‘should’ be? If the spring came along as normal just now and the plants came out and the birds came back, we’d notice them because it’s a change from winter, but would we notice them more than we normally do each year? It’s the same with the people in our lives. I’m sure we can all think of a time we noticed when something wasn’t done, simply because it normally is done every day. The cleaning, seeing someone every day, a particular routine. Or when someone isn’t in our life any more. We notice them by where they used to be.
The snow is also good for mindfulness. The winter makes you more conscious of yourself. You realise you’re breathing by seeing your breath in the air, you realise the steps you’re taking because you can see your footsteps in the snow. We do these things every day but how often do we think about them? Not until they’re shown to us, and we become aware again.
It makes me wonder how much happens in our lives that we’re just not aware of, because we’re so used to doing the same things and expecting things to happen as they always do.
This very point was made in a book I read recently -“Did you spot the gorilla?” by Richard Wiseman. A series of volunteers are asked to watch a video clip of people playing basketball and to count the passes of the ball. During the clip, a guy comes onto the court dressed as a gorilla, beats his chest, and leaves. Hardly anyone notices this, because they’re not looking for it. The book is all about using this phenomenon to find the gorillas in our own lives – the sometimes obvious things that we don’t notice because we’re not looking for them. It’s an interesting concept.
Sometimes I try to be really aware of absolutely everything that I’m doing. If I go to do something I always do without thinking, I ask myself why I’m doing it that way. Is the way I normally do it still working for me? Is there another way? I enjoy noticing what I’m actually doing for a change. It’s like seeing your breath and footprints in the snow – reminders of what we’re doing every day, whether we’re conscious of it or not.