Wednesday, 12 January 2011

What's up?

Literally, how often do you look up when you’re walking down the street? Do you notice the sky, roofs, signs, birds? For that matter, when you’re up high, do you look down?

Today, standing on the station platform where I stand every day waiting for a train with millions of other people, I turned around. I stepped back from the crowds and looked over the barriers to the world going by below the station (I'm lucky to get an overground train, so it's in the open air).

What did I notice? London buses have a huge white sign with their registration number printed on their roofs. Well, who knew?! Are they trying to communicate with aliens in space? Are they making sure people in tall buildings can see the bus registration? Or are they simply monitoring bus movement by connecting to satellite picturing or ensuring they’re visible to police helicopters in case of accidents? I’m guessing the latter.

Why they’re there = not the point. 

The point = we spend so long absorbed in our day to day routines that we miss the magic in the world. We miss the beauty that’s hiding quietly around every corner; we miss the fantastically decorative architecture on the roofs of buildings; and we’re probably missing hilarious incidents of breaking behaviour that would bring a wide-eyed smile to our day.

I encourage you over the next day, week and month to look around you. Particularly when it’s such grey and miserable weather outside, like it is this week. Find some interest in your environment. Force yourself to notice something that you never usually see. Even if you’re taking the same route, see it for the first time. And if you’re really brave, why not try an alternative route?

Obviously there's a wealth of psychological research showing the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. But I won't bore you with it. I want you to experience it yourself. Try it out, and report back.

And for all those writers out there, you'll find brilliant story potential all over the world, every single minute. That I can promise. We just need to be on the watch to notice them.

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