This post was once again inspired by a tweet:
As I'm sure you can imagine, I really like the thought behind this. The world is so full of beauty and sensation and it is easy to become numb to it all. In this post, I'll mention some underrated but amazing experiences I've had recently that make it fun to be alive. Things that you should always take a moment to experience fully, without the goggles of experience and habit.
That's right. Just look up, at the sky. This doesn't work if you're indoors so if you're having trouble try double checking to make sure you are not surrounded by walls and a roof. If you are instead greeted by a vast expanse of blue then it sounds like you're doing it right. Just take care not to be blinded by the sun.
But really, looking up at the sky on a clear day is a transcendant experience. There's just so much of it, and it's always there, suspended above our heads. Filled with all manner of intricate clouds, soaring birds, things unlike you'll ever see on the ground. I'm lucky enough that my apartment gives me a clear view of the sky, and I always try to remember to relish the experience. The amazing thing about the sky is that it's always changing; the clouds are on the run, the sun sometimes paints the sky is its own fiery hues, and strange weather can turn the whole horizon upside down. The shape of the heavens can take your breath away.
Recently I was late for the train. The trains here are elevated above the ground and I saw it pulling into the station above me so I sprinted as fast as I could and I climbed the stairs and barely got on. The beautiful thing about running fast is that for a moment, you don't feel it at all. Before your body uses up it's stored oxygen and your lungs exact their revenge. We were born to run, and doing so connects us to something deep and ancient.
It's a beautiful feeling to run fast on a warm and sunny day, to feel like you're flying through the air. Your feet pounding hard against the ground, the wind blowing back your hair. Before you feel anything, it feels like you could run this fast forever. You could chase the sun and catch the moon. Or, in this case, catch the train. I love getting excuses to run like this in my life, but relying on the bus and train a lot helps. I feel sorry for those who no longer run, who will not experience this again. Remember to appreciate what you have.
It's amazing that we get to live in a world full of strange and unique animals. Less so if you live in a major city, but urban wildlife still holds many surprises. Each animal has its own peculiarities, and there's so much to learn by watching them. I find you can never predict what animals will do next, and trying to do so is always a delightful challenge.
Personally, birds are my favorite, but they don't have to be birds. Everybody has a favorite animal, and I've always liked birds of all kinds, but you could do this with ants or dogs or squirrels or lizards. I recommend finding some animals in a park or even in a zoo, and spend some time trying to understand them. Decipher them. I once spent a week trying to feed squirrels and befriend them, and they still have plenty they could teach me. Many animals are deceptively intelligent, and you might find you learn something about yourself.
The plants and flowers around us are deceptively complex. They are more than just pretty eye candy, there are worlds of sensation within them. For those who have not been lucky enough to keep their own garden, you can still get a lot out of spending time with any old tree. Take a leaf for example (I was going to suggest grass but I think a leaf is better).
Try feeling it between your two fingers. Close your eyes and really explore the surface of the leaf with the pads of your fingers. Touch is one of our lesser used senses, but it still holds worlds of wonder. Each species of leaf is unique, but they all contain fractal patterns of detail and geometry. If you are more scientifically inclines you might enjoy learning about the structures of a leaf: the ridges of the leaf are the veins, which contain the xylem and phloem which transport water and nutrients. Or, just appreciate one of thousands of unique sensory experiences which are lying in plain sight all around you.
Submerge Yourself in Humanity
There are some places which serve as nerve centers for the great conciousness that is humanity. The places where people concentrate at, like train stations and hospitals and airports. I think one of the best and most defining parts of being human is the stories we weave around our lives, and nowhere contains more starts and ends of stories than those three places.
Places like airports and hospitals aren't usually where you want to spend your time, but most of us will end up spending time in a place like that eventually. If you let down your barriers and experience the world around you, you might find dozens of touching moments, or humans filled with intense joy or intense sadness. There are thousands of people coming and going everyday, so there are sure to be some interesting stories playing out in front of you.
Let yourself be awash in a sea of human moments and feelings. How often do you get a chance to see so many little dramas unfold, packed together in such a small time and space. Plus, it might make the rest of the stay a little less grueling.