It’s funny how the right song can make you take a step back and see the world from a different perspective: mundanity erased and replaced with a golden hue similar to seeing a new city for the first time.
Like floating slightly above myself with binoculars and the childlike determination to examine everything, really seeing brings me incredible joy.
I seek this sensation quite often; observing everyone and everything allows my world-view to narrow on the simple, beautiful moments which make life so breathtaking. The average person is so hyper focused on their to-do list – like unknowing flies stuck in a massive spider web of work-sleep-repeat – that they fail to notice the wonderful present that is right here, right now. When was the last time you stopped to smell the flowers?
Whether I’m listening to music while I walk to class, sitting in the car next to a friend, or gazing out my window when I wake up first thing in the morning, taking a step back and simply looking can be borderline intoxicating.
Life is not all barefooted ice cream sandwiches on the beach during the sunset in the middle of July: I have had my fair share of dark times. But if you can find the space to focus on the simple things in life, maybe you will find moments similar to a midsummer dessert by the ocean.
If I leave the house at exactly 8:30 in the morning, then I cross paths with a school bus full of bright-eyed elementary schoolers. Sometimes I see a little boy gazing out the window; I like to believe he’s looking at me and personifying me as I do him. Is he excited to go to school? Maybe he’s nervous to be sitting on the bus. Is the seat cold, maybe slightly stiff, under his little legs? All I know is, through a split-second encounter with an anonymous child, I’m brought back to my childhood.
Recently, I was at the grocery store with my roommate. Like we always do, we filled our arms to the brim with assorted goods until we could hold no more. While waiting in line at the checkout, she dropped her entire pile of groceries. My hands were too intertwined with my own collection of snacks to help her, so she attempted to re-arrange her groceries by herself. We held back a fit of hysterical laughter until I glanced at the middle aged man behind us who was sporting an amused grin and we erupted into a fit of giggles. Soon everyone in line around us was also laughing, only further losing themselves in the moment of humor as my roommate proceeded to drop things and pick them up again: struggling with her own laughter as she attempted to balance all her boxes, cans, and bags in two arms. The collective joy of laughing with strangers was such a magical moment because we all simultaneously released the expectation to be serious and found humor in a small shared experience. By taking a step back from the big picture, a group of random people experienced the simple, human emotion of happiness.
Sometimes, when I’m at a party or with a big group of friends I like to sit away from the crowd, maybe sitting in the corner, and just watch. From an outsider’s perspective this may seem like odd or even creepy behavior, but I genuinely enjoy being isolated for a minute so I can witness the people I love just exist. I recently watched friends eat dinner from my spot alone in the kitchen, have strayed away from the group while walking down the sidewalk so I may see them interact from a distance, and sometimes lean over the banister at my house to see my dad speak to the birds he feeds outside to witness his youthful emotions. Watching other people who I care about, even for a brief second, is like capturing a moment in my memory before I can forget.
Removing oneself from the current moment so you may take a mental snapshot is not an easy task. Like meditation, it’s straining to accept the stillness of this very moment and allow your eyes to absorb all that is around you. Life is weird: it’s busy, it’s stressful, and sometimes, it really sucks. Yet other times, life is painfully beautiful. Like when you’re so happy you can feel your tear ducts swelling with pride: that’s how I feel when I take a step back. Observing everything I usually ignore reminds me: we’re all going to be okay.