Déjà View: perceptual blindness; when we walk through the landscape of life and miss out on the beautiful, exquisite little things and instead each day is seen as an agonising facsimile of the day before. Inflexibility to new view or viewpoints. Fearing difference creating numbing sameness.
Over the past month we have walked from London and over half way through France on our way to Jerusalem. We have passed numerous little villages, towns, fields, forests and hills.
Field of Experience
We have passed many many fields. Fields filled with wheat, barley, hemp, rapeseed, sunflower, cabbage, silver beet, grape, potato, and so on. We have seen crops at different stages, some being planted, others beginning to blossom, some bearing fruit, others ready for harvest.
We have seen wheat crops being harvested by monstrous mechanical harvesters, great beasts guzzling up grain and spitting out chaff from their rear. No doubt to pre-industrial villagers if they were to witness these machines they would have been in complete awe.
We have seen only yesterday straw being made into round bales by a tractor pulling a bale maker that cut the straw in the field, gathered it in its rotating jaws, then stopped in the field for a few seconds. The bale was being tied and then it was being released from the rear like some gigantic bale-laying chicken.
Small minds like ours are fascinated by little things!
Fields of Sameness
It may be tempting to ask the question, ‘how many fields can you walk past or through before it all begins to look the same and start to become boring?’.
Good question. I’m not sure as I haven’t reached that stage yet.
The reason is I like to focus on the ‘little things’, the minute subtle differences.
It is these little differences I believe make all the difference.
I am eternally curious, just ask my long suffering wife. Driving to get anywhere I can’t help but have my head everywhere else but on the road at times! I will say to her, ‘look at those clouds, aren’t they unusual?’, ‘did you see that house we have just passed, how lovely?’, ‘wow, look at that tree, isn’t it incredible?’. Poor Heidi, she has a lot of patience putting up with my OCD (obsessive curiosity disorder).
Fields of Difference
If you think about wheat fields, because we have walked for over a month, if you combine distance with time we have been able to see wheat at different stages.
We have seen wheat crops not quite fully grown, we have seen wheat at the stage that the golden ears start to droop and it is ready for harvest, being harvested and have walked through fields of stubble.
Noticing these differences, together with the landscape where we are walking through, such as flat land, hilly, and whether the field is bounded by another crop of barley, or rapeseed, or by a hedge or forest leads to a lot of variety.
These little differences add to a lot of difference. In fact if you had to multiply all the variables a humble wheat field can start to look very interesting to walk past.
Often we may have a narrow perception on anything because we may not fully engage more of our senses.
For instance, walking through a wheat field can be an experience in itself. The ground underfoot may be firm, there may be uneven divets, it may be muddy and slippery. The earth may be light and chalky or be rich, deep, dark and red. The ears of wheat as they brush along your legs may be scratchy. You can hear the ripe wheat rustling in the breeze. After a light shower you may smell the earthy sun. In the late afternoon the wheat can taken on a golden light glowing like embers in the fire of the sun. In the morning the mist covered field is sprinkled with a fine icing that begins to glitter jewel-like with the first rays penetrating the mysterious veil.
Just in the above description I have described engaging your sense of touch, hearing, smell, and sight.
Your ‘reality’ or perception of something is commensurate to how deeply your senses are engaged.
Just yesterday I cottoned on to the idea that I was ‘missing out’ in fully sensually experiencing these moments of walking. I wasn’t engaging my sense of taste! Here we are walking past and through fields of wheat, barley and champagne grapes and not sampling the bounty!
Yesterday as we journeyed I began to not only gaze into the vast fields but ‘graze’.
I started with an ear of barley. Nimbly separating the grains and holding it by the long glumes, the hair-like extension of each grain, and putting it in my mouth. Tentatively I began to chew with my incisors feeling the not yet ripe texture, tasting its nutty almost ‘meaty’ consistency, and biting off the glume. With many hours of walking one gets patience to mindfully eat one grain at a time.
From previous experiences with wild grasses I learned that trying to chew on a blade of grass while walking can quickly lead to choking. Because of the silicon fibres in the blade of grass the more you try and remove the blade from your mouth with your tongue the more the persistent blade goes further into your mouth! The same goes if you happen to eat the barley glume.I take no responsibility!
Nibbled In The Bud
As we walk through the champagne region I look forward to sampling a couple of fully ripe grapes. In the meantime, two days ago as we walked down a very picturesque hillside into a quaint village at its base we passed champagne grape vineyards.
The crop was still young and so had miniature olive looking fruit. Knowing that they would be tart at such a tender age I gingerly placed one in my mouth and felt the sea of saliva engulf my mouth as I bit into this little green morsel. I began chewing the skin and the acidity brought tears to my eyes and I knew it was time to spit it out.
My experiments in ‘grazing’ reminded me of the importance to live presently, to live mindfully, sensually. To be fully engaged. To notice the subtleties. To celebrate and seek out difference.
Be Small Minded But Not Narrow Minded
As I write these words I am reminded of the woman I saw in the town of Bar-sur-Aube that you see at the top of this page peering through the window.
I think about who she may be, the life she would have led in this town, what she had experienced, what makes her happy, what things has she seen over the period she has lived. I wish I could get into her mind and know.
It also makes me think about the ‘small town’ or ‘village mentality’ of living in a closed community. Of missing out on the big world and the gamut of experiences and opportunities. I don’t say this to put village people down, I would love to be able to one day live in one such small village.
Instead I use it as a metaphor about how we can limit our life experiences simply by being narrow minded, not being open to new ideas, living in a ‘closed community of thinking’.
I wish I could have got to know this lady as through understanding her different experiences I can get to apprecaiate and understand her and others better.
The Sensual Act of Walking
Walking is such a an incredible way to really experience the landscape. Speeding past in a car behind a glass screen one loses the depth of experience getting when walking. It is an insulating experience like sitting in front of a television – the full sensual surround sensual experience is limited.
Ground Hog Day
It is very easy to fall into a ‘rut’ a ‘narrow channel’, that takes you to the same experience each day. An endless loop where it is easy to get lost in boredom, some call Ground Hog Day. No doubt there have been moments in all our lives when we have felt ‘stuck’ including mine.
These are the times we need to begin to make little changes in our lives. Incremental changes can lead to great growth in the long term. Whenever you begin to feel your days starting to feel the same as they blend in together it is time to start paying attention!
Begin to focus on the little things in your environment. Stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Allow yourself to sit still. Notice the flowers blooming, the different bird songs outside your window. Begin paying attention and awareness of your environment.
When you invest income and you earn interest, by placing that interest on your initial investment it will grow exponentially. It is no different to your life.
Begin paying attention to the little things in each day, and in time your interest and attention will expand so that you become more curious and open to new enriching experiences.
Curiosity Skilled The Cat
Contrary to popular belief, curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it skilled the cat.
You are the cat, and if you want to have more of that Cheshire Cat grin on you face, begin by making incremental changes in your life.
Why not take a different route to work; go to a different cafe or order something different off the menu. Make a new dish for dinner. Learn a new language or take up a new hobby. Let your curiosity get the better of you. Close your eyes and next time you are at a party, instead of being the wallflower, go speak to a complete stranger – be the sunflower. Be brave.
For most big changes aren’t easy, but everyone can make little incremental changes. Just think, instead of narrowing your mind and field of vision, expand it a little at a time. Widen your horizons.
Open Mind Open Heart
By expanding your mind to new experiences something magical begins to happen. Your heart expands. It opens up like a flower and life begins to get really interesting and exciting.
You may begin to feel that things that used to annoy or upset you don’t anymore. You may also become more tolerant and accepting of others who are different to you. You may also be more open and accepting of other people’s thoughts and ideas.
Begin to make little incremental changes in your life starting from now.
It is a lot more motivating to make little changes than commit to big change but little changes add up to a heck of a lot of big change.
When we begin to actively look for difference in our world then our world expands at the speed of our heart’s expansion. You may see that as your interests grow, your interest in others expands too.
By celebrating we can take the first step for peace in our immediate and greater worlds. The idea for this blog came to me as we began our walk two days ago in the morning walking through Another World. Another World was the name of a small village in Champagne.
Another world is possible when we begin making little differences in our own lives and accepting differences in others.
When we accept difference, the distance between ignorance and fear and acceptance and appreciation disappears.
When we decide to draw the blinds and open up our window to notice difference, then narrow mindedness and fear evaporate and our horizons and experiences expand.
Begin to seek out difference and instead of fearing it begin to embrace it. Let go of sameness and déjà view and embrace a brand new day.
Understanding and celebrating difference removes ignorance and fear. Life takes on a new magic. Colours become more vivid. Our taste for difference grows. Our love of other opens us to a new vision of peace, love and happiness in our world.
May your vision for your life and your world expand by embracing other. May you experience life in its fullness and your heart open to the difference that difference makes.