Last week I spent an afternoon wading through the still and clear waters of a nearby inlet searching for clams. There was not a breath of wind, the water was a perfect mirror, it was a good time to reflect. As I watched crabs scurry behind reflected clouds and ducks slice open the sky, two things occurred to me. Thing one was that I have not written a blog for a very long time. I’m not going to beat myself up too much over that, instead I will blame it on thing two, and besides I am rectifying thing one now so call me reformed.
Thing two is far less forgiveable. Thing two is taking ‘things’ for granted. For that you can shoot me down…not literally, please. When I think back to when we first arrived here in the Falklands, and re-read our first blogs, everything seemed new and exciting. The smallest observations of our every day life seemed exotic and quirky, sometimes blog-worthy. And then life happened; routines developed, habits formed and day to day life began to pass by unobserved. The little occurrences and quirks faded into the background and lost their brilliance and colour, and in so doing bleached the colourful tapestry of our daily lives into a boring blanket; warm and useful but not as exciting or beautiful. Don’t misunderstand me, day to day life has been great, but I grieve for the sense of adventure and wonder which filled us during the first months after our arrival. We used to stop in awe when a Turkey vulture swooped overhead, now we shoo them away from the scraps we put out for the chickens. We used to laugh at the incessant wind, now we park the car facing into the wind so that the doors don’t get ripped off without a second thought.
‘Things’ however have not changed. Turkey vultures are just as striking, the wind has yet to relent. The things that we thought were quirky and exotic on arriving to a new country are still happening, always have and always will happen…everywhere. What has changed is our perception of them. When in a new place we experience things in the raw, unfiltered by our past experiences and future expectations. I guess this is why travel is so exciting and addictive and certainly for me is an unending quest to see new places and experience new things. Maybe the true value of travel is to show how life can look without filters. To briefly open your eyes to the world so that you see even the small things. Perhaps instead of visiting new places we should be trying to unearth the beautiful things that happen, and go unobserved in our daily lives and learn to enjoy them more fully.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
A few days later I was procrastinating with a cup of tea, and thinking of creative ways to avoid cleaning the fridge; It was exuding a terrible smell of rotting squid. I decided to light a joss stick. The smoke drifted across the room and was lit up by the sunshine streaming in through the window. I don’t know whether it was the smell of the joss stick, the cephalopods decomposing in the salad drawer, or the resolution I had made a few days before, but I began to look more closely at the smoke. Noticing this little occurrence that so easily might go unobserved.
The smoke flowed and rolled, was whipped up in tiny eddies, smoothed by invisible draughts and like a shoal of fish or a flock of birds formed every shape known to nature in a constantly evolving show. I grabbed my camera and zoomed in on the detail…It really was quite spectacular when you looked closely, at one point a spike of smoke swirled up like a genie from a lamp! Now I know what you are thinking… that the so called ‘joss stick’ was a joint and I was stoned out of my head, entranced by the spectacle of my own exhalations but you would be wrong. The only drug I was imbibing was tea.
So, inspired by this I am on a mission to take notice, and not take ‘things’ for granted. For me writing or blogging helps me do just that. It’s a good way of pausing and making sense of the things that are going on, finding the beauty in the mundane. I remember a quote sent to me a long time ago by my sister ‘The little things in life are not important, they are everything’ …and perhaps they are.
So why not try too? Find your favourite coloured yarns (don’t be overwhelmed by the huge choice of types, colours and textures. You can pick as many as you like. They are free, abundant and you can find them everywhere) and begin threading them back into the fabric of your daily life. And watch out for smoke Genies!