Get off your autopilot!
I flew from Chicago to San Diego yesterday. I love the window seat and always pick it when I can. My neighbors and I wanted to sleep and watch movies, so the shade was closed next to me. But after my usual “takeoff nap” I had to open the shade every now and then – just to get a glimpse of where we were. About every 45 minutes or so, the view out my window completely changed: fields, to hills, to snow-capped mountains, then parts of the Grand Canyon, vast scapes of sand and areas like Joshua Tree National Forest, and finally palm trees and ocean. Our country is truly beautiful from 36,000ft. From here, you see we’ve been blessed with such diversity of landscape; the myriad of colors (the brownish-red near the canyons, deep green of the trees, dark gray of the rugged mountains, and meticulous grids of the fields below. From up here, you can appreciate both the rugged and the flat. You notice the cloud of sand kicked up from winds near the base of some cliffs is contained in a certain area.
From sea level, the perspective is different. it’s easy to get caught up in the right-here, right-now, unable to see the horizon, or beyond that first set of hills. And just like my flight, the vastness of life can pass us by if we don’t remember to pause and look out the window.
Autopilot is easy and our minds can fall into it without much effort, and so they do. Like when we drive somewhere but couldn’t tell you a thing about the trip when we arrive to our destination, or when we eat a meal but can’t recall if it tasted good or not, or how about when we leave the office, but can’t recall how we spent much of our day. Autopilot allows us to move through life, but we are numbed to its experiences, its emotions, and the diversity of what is around us. It’s a good avoidance strategy, but we miss the beauty in the diversity of what we have been given– each terrain for a different purpose. It becomes difficult to appreciate the steep climbs because we not only miss the climb, but the view from the top.
So take a couple milliseconds today to notice things – the first snowfall, or the warmth of the sun; the smile of a loved one or the pain of a stranger. You’ll be so much better for it.