We can get so used to the same routine day after day, that we do not realize how narrow our world view becomes. Today, an unexpected find has lit my otherwise ordinary work day. It reminded me of surprises waiting for us just out of sight, and of how quickly our perception of reality can change.
I have been feeling somewhat painted into a corner, since the office in which I work is situated along a busy road, in the middle of an industrial park. Lots of trucks spewing exhaust, an abundance of cars, warehouses, and a small gas station are the main features of my surroundings. Needless to say, that does neither foster a sense of well-being, nor inspire creativity. The options for a healthy lunch, excluding food brought from home, are non-existent. In fact, without driving for 5-10 minutes, there are no lunch options at all, save the fare a little convenience store at the gas station has to offer. And very few things they carry I would classify as food.
Aside from non-existent lunch options, with so much industrial infrastructure around, going for a walk means either wondering around concrete-sealed warehouse yards or walking along a busy road with 70 km/h traffic, much of it being heavy-laden trucks, with dust clouds rising as vehicles pass, and no sidewalk. At least so I thought until today.
After working here for two years, a colleague of mine had just discovered a hidden gem in this industrial wasteland and has shared his find. We walked for about 5 minutes before the view of a beautiful quarry filled with water opened up. The noise of cars was muffled and tall evergreens bordered the quarry. The place was deserted, except for two people sitting on the sand near the water, carrying on a quiet conversation.
I looked at the quiet water reflecting the blue sky with a few clouds, the soft ripples at the shallow edges of the pool, white fluttering of wings as a flock of birds bathed at the far end. I listened to the gentle whisperings of wind in the trees and the splashing of fish near the shore. I took off my shoes and walked in the cool shallow water, on the soft sand, on the smooth river stones. Mere minutes away from the bustle and dust, this quiet oasis has refreshed me. A partly cleared narrow path through the evergreens promised new discoveries, and we decided to leave its hidden surprises for another time.
When I got back to the office, it didn’t feel like an island in the middle of an industrial dessert anymore. Such a subtle spatial awareness that a beautiful, quiet sanctuary is but minutes away had suddenly changed the way I perceived my reality.
There will be more trips to the quarry, maybe with a lunch, to sit down and enjoy the space for a time. There shall be more walks and, perhaps, walking meetings, to get out of an office setting and get into a more creative state. Walking barefoot in cool, refreshing water during a break is a great opportunity to switch gears, breathe, and pause to appreciate the present moment.
Have you explored the space around your work and your home? Where does your road take you?