The art of seeing what really is
Here in New England it is time for fall. The leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are dropping downwards. Nature is preparing for the upcoming winter. Animals are migrating to warmer spots of the world. Some stay, preparing for hibernation or burrowing into the ground. The gardens are producing their final crops of the season. The bees seem to be preparing for the long rest of the upcoming winter finding the last flowers on their journeys to and from the hive.
It is a great time of the year for a hike outdoors. Recently, I took a hike into the woods. The leaves had just started changing colors so I had the expectation of seeing the beautiful colors in the trees. This year’s summer was exceptionally hot and humid and the air still retained that feeling of being full of moisture and wetness. In the forest, because of the wetness, the mushrooms and fungi were everywhere in beautiful colors from brilliant oranges, blues, greens, and reds – I had never seen such a show of color! This was quite unexpected. The trees, while starting to change colors have not reached their peak but this was more than compensated for by the colors on the ground.
I came upon a spot in the forest, which has a vernal pool – a place that is usually wet in the spring, but dries out in the summer and for the rest of the year. Coming to the pool, I stopped to take a look. The pool was full of water, even in the fall. I continued walking till I reached the edge of the water, I heard the sound of a short cry, a croak and then a splash. Suddenly these sounds were everywhere surrounding me, calling out wherever I stepped. I was surprised to find out that it was frogs were making these sounds. Frogs in the fall – this was quite amazing. Standing quietly at the edge of the water from the far side of the pool came the sound of bullfrogs so there were more than one specie in the vernal pool. Now this was truly exceptional. I expect to hear frogs in the springtime or even in the summer but have never heard them in the fall. The sound of frogs in the fall opened up a new experience to me. If I had ignored the pool or just kept my attention on wanting to see the leaves of the trees I would have missed out – just as I would have missed out on seeing the mushrooms and fungus on the forest floor. Staying open to seeing whatever came up in the forrest allowed me to see some pretty amazing things and interact with nature in a new way.
Sometimes in life we go on expecting the world to be in a certain way. When the world doesn’t meet our presupposed expectations, we may become a little emotionally down. We block what is right in front of us getting it out of our mind, and refocusing our attention on the things we see that are familiar and more in line with our expectations. We choose not to see the world as it really is, but rearrange it to make it fit our sense of what it should look like. We separate ourselves from the change in the world.
This week, take your own walk outside, be it in a forest, or on a sidewalk in a city. Really observe and just look at the world as you walk without bringing your expectations to the experience. Don’t expect to see anything in particular – just concentrate and enjoy seeing whatever you see – being in the moment – observing whatever comes your way. Accepting that that is how it should be.
Can we make the experience of walking mindful, appreciating each and every step of the journey as special in its own way? Can we savor each moment, feeling the sense of aliveness just by walking and not focusing on getting to a destination? Try it out for yourself. You may just find your “inner frog” this fall!