Everyone has a routine. And when each individual goes through the same motions day in and day out, those threads weave themselves into patterns – a tapestry of life. Most go about their business without ever recognizing their neighboring threads.
Do you notice the person who always sits in the same place on the bus with you? Do you see the woman who walks her dog past your living room window every morning? How many times along your commute do you make eye contact? Say “good morning” with a genuine smile? Do you remember what any of them look like?
I am very fortunate that I have a walking commute. It’s slow and relaxed, full of cool, crisp morning air, beautiful sunrises, and blooming flowers. I’m blessed (or cursed?) with a photographer’s eye, so I am constantly looking for photo opportunities. Ever since I got my commuter camera, my eye has become all the more tuned, unhindered by a race to get to my desk. I have grown to naturally notice myriad tiny bits of life so often overlooked, including those I pass every day.
I see the dozen bicyclists, and I even recognize a few of you under your helmets. I smile at the gentleman with your kid in the cargo bike. I see the reclining bike; your tall dual flags flash as you pedal down the path.
I notice the man in the bright yellow jacket and glasses, always with your coffee and bag of pastries. The cute elderly woman; you move slowly along the river but smile at everyone you pass.
I see the fellow photographers out for the early morning shots. The occasional coworker. A friend.
I notice when you wear a different jacket. I notice when you bike instead of walk. I notice when your routine changes and my commute is suddenly lacking your presence – your colors are no longer complimenting and brightening my life’s worn thread. I notice you.
Do you notice me?
I was on my way home for the weekend the other day, happily dance-walking as I jammed to an upbeat tune, and I passed a woman sitting on a bench. She smiled when she saw me, remarking that I looked too cheerful to be on my way to work. I laughed and agreed. She was amused. I felt like I brightened someone’s day, if only for a short moment. I would have liked to take her picture, but I was too busy living in that encounter.
How do other people impact your life? Do you look up from your phone long enough to see their radiance? To wonder about their stories? To smile and say hello?
Perhaps you can do what I did – start bringing a camera with you and look for opportunities. Before you realize it, you’ll notice tiny details you always missed before, and camera or no, your life might just be that much more colorful.