Do you ever catch yourself thinking so deep and obsessing/analyzing so rapidly that you become completely oblivious to your surroundings? For example, you’ve been driving for 30 minutes and the past 30 miles are all a blur? Have you ever intentionally stopped yourself in the middle of your racing thoughts and started to observe your environment? It’s amazing how much beauty we miss everyday. It’s all around us, everywhere, all the time. I wonder how often we give up witnessing God’s awe-inspiring creation because we’re stuck in our heads running circles around to-do’s, worries, concerns, ideas, deadlines… the list goes on and on and on.
How could we live surrounded by so much real beauty and complexity and yet be more focused on our Instagram feed? We’ve trained our eyes and minds to keep looking for the next new "______" (filling in the blank doesn't fill us - the blank stays empty) and we fail to notice what’s been here all along. It’s right in front of our eyes but in order to really see it we have to slow down and look. It takes discipline, and might I say a discipline that our culture does not promote. We have to train our eyes to really notice it. Calm our minds to appreciate it. Open up our hearts to receive it. On the surface it’s pretty mundane and simple. But when you get up close it’s infinitely complex and beautiful, and so therapeutic.
Over the years I started to notice my obsessive thinking more and more. So much so that it started to bother me and I wanted to learn how to deal with it better. A friend of mine mentioned that one of the things that Jesus said to do when dealing with worry and anxiety is to LOOK at the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). He said that blocking out the noise and just simply observing the beauty of God’s creation is a simple way to be reminded of His provision and presence. He told me to start going for short walks as a way to deal with stress and anxiety.
So towards the end of last year (before the temperature dropped to 18 degrees - geesh) I got into the habit of going for short walks around the neighborhood. I’ve never been a walker. It never made sense to me. Run a few miles to burn off steam and calories, well sure. But walk? Why? It seemed so pointless. Every now and then I would take a walk if I was stuck on a song or if I needed to pray about something, but it was never a habit. It’s funny that the reason I didn’t take walks (it felt like an non-productive time waster) was the exact reason that I needed to start taking them (to crash the “I need to be efficient and productive” chatterbox and open up my eyes and ears to SEE and LISTEN).
One day I was having an incredibly hard time focusing. I couldn’t stop thinking and obsessing about a vast array of thoughts that were honestly valid and in need of my attention. Then it hit me: “Feel the pavement underneath your feet.” I started to concentrate on how the pavement felt under my super comfortable pair of Nike Lunar Glide 7s. “Feel the air coming in and out of your lungs. Notice how that tree is different from the other trees. Feel the warmth of the sun on your neck." It was like I escaped my mind and put a pair of glasses on. I started noticing details and intricacies all around me.
At that precise moment I looked up and noticed a street sign I had never observed before. “PARADISE DRIVE”. I had walked up and down that street so many times without realizing it. I smiled so big. Here I was stuck in my head, and the moment I opened up my eyes to take in my surroundings was the moment I realized I was walking on Paradise Drive. LITERALLY.
"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." Hellen Keller
I challenge you to open your eyes today. Not just today. But to develop the discipline of intentionally surrendering the drive to try to control everything by obsessing about it and just... BE. Look. Listen. See. Hear. Feel.
"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11:3