Just Look Down

Stop and look around. You might find surprise and delight. (Image: Shawn Ward)

I ran into this story doing some research. It speaks to our opportunity to stop what we’re doing in our hustle and be present. What can we discover if we did? Also, the reward we can receive when we do listen to our inner critic.

A number of years ago, I was invited to this thing [a summit on simplicity] at the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut…There was, I think, 10 or 15 people invited. One of the people invited was this older man, this Japanese man. I think he was in his 80s or close to it. Almost everyone else was much younger, much, much younger. 20s and 30s, 40s maybe.

Philip Johnson had this idea and that it’s actually one building and the hallways are just outside, which is kind of a cool thought. But really, it’s like 12 different buildings. Anyway, we were talking between these houses and you have a 50-acre site, so there’s a bit of distance between these buildings. I noticed that this guy was always last in the line to walk. I kind of sat back with him on one of the walks. It wasn’t because he was old. That would be the first thing you would think. That he’s just older, so he’s going to walk slower. But actually, he’s like no, and I could tell that he was physically able to walk as fast as everybody else. It wasn’t that.

He goes, “No, everyone’s just walking too fast and they’re missing things as they go.” He just kneeled down and he looked – he took like this square foot of ground. By the way, I noticed as he was walking, he was looking down as well. So he’s walking slowly and looking down. He kind of took this square foot of land and pointed out some flowers and some insects and some shapes and some stuff. He says, “This is beautiful. People feel like they have to go all over the world to see something new. All they have to do is look down.” If you walk slowly and look down, there’s a world under your feet all the time. An interesting world.

We have to work hard to be present. We switch on average tasks every 40 seconds when in front of our technology. That’s a hard reality to come to terms with and find a way to be more self-aware that it happens. When we do give ourselves a chance to look down, we’ll find ourselves surprised and delighted on a much more regular basis. Happier than when we don’t. We will find purpose much more frequently, meaning, and a sharper focus/perspective.

Go for a walk and try it out yourself. Turn any tech to “do not disturb” if you bring any with you. Thanks for your views and time to consider the possibilities. Hope your week is full of self-discovery and moments of enlightenment.

✌🏻 Shawn

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