It’s been around two and a half years since I gave up my car. Maybe less, I don’t know, unless there’s an “o’clock” next to it, I’m really bad at gauging time. But I think it was around two and a half years. Sure, there are days when I wish I had a car. Have you ever tried hefting a 50 pound bag of dog food home? Yeah, no, neither have I. But that’s what friends are for and if I’m really in a bind, I know I can count on one of them to bail me out. So, sure, I have to leave a little earlier for things. Sure, I have to sit next to some funk on the bus, but you know what, I would change it for the world. You know why?
Because I get to see the city. I mean really see it. We miss so much zooming through neighborhoods in our cars and, yes, our bikes (I use my Millie for anything over a mile). When you walk, you really get to take in everything. Hell, even the bus is a nice, passive way to get around and stare out a window without any social pressure to make conversation with the person sitting next to you.
The saying goes, “God is in the details.” To change it around for my fellow atheists, “Beauty is in the details.” We’re so inundated with bright flashing lights, billboards and messages shouting at us from every possible medium, that we’ve stopped noticing all of the small things that make up the beauty in the world around us and give us insight into humanity.
It’s one of the biggest reasons why I love street art so much. It makes people who might not ordinarily pay attention to a drab brick wall, stop and maybe even take a picture of the discovery of a beautiful work of art pasted to the side of an abandoned building. Also, street art rewards those of us that pay attention to our surroundings as we walk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pointed out art to friends that they walked right by because it was on the sidewalk or the lower corner of a building or electrical box.
When you look at your surroundings, you start seeing the little things. The pieces of frost clinging to one of the most goddamn stubborn, resilient roses you’ve ever seen. The deep, rich maroon of one singular leaf clinging to a barren branch. The kindness of a homeless man sharing half of his cheeseburger with his dog.
In my opinion, these are the little things that make up a whole that is a pretty wonderful life and I’m always shocked when people don’t see the same things I do. I guess it makes sense. We spend so much time involved in things that take us inward or give us tunnel vision: computers, phones, video games and more. It seems like we’re starting to forget how to look outward for inspiration and awe.
So, here’s my challenge to you. Take a 30 minute walk around your hood. Bring some music if you want, I find having a soundtrack is always nice. But no email, no phone calls. Just re-engage with your senses. Really look at all of the details surrounding you and be grateful for it. Your eyes have so much to look at; your nose, so much to smell, your ears, so much to hear.
Just stop and look and marvel at the world around you.