After a timely run in with car problems, I’ve been walking to work lately. I also have a new job, which is an entirely different fabulous story but completely off topic for this thought piece. The walk to work isn’t particularly daunting: it’s just a mile down the main street in my small city. Straight shot really. I even pass by a little park. Now, I’ve lived in my hometown my entire life. I could point where the Skippy’s and the Radioshack used to be and list the number of businesses that have occupied the espresso stand up the street before it landed on its current batch of owners. But walking the street is different than watching it slide by in a car window and suddenly, I’m learning a lot more about that stretch of my hometown than I ever had cruising by it.
There’s a single abandoned shoe in one of the street side flower beds. Everyday, I wonder if someone will comeback for it but everyday it’s wet with morning dew. I wonder if I should be that someone but I always forget to bring a garbage bag with me until I’m staring at the white laces stretched across the dirt. That espresso stand up the street I mentioned earlier? It has a ramp leading up to the front door that’s rotting out. Little bits of wood speckle the pavement. I’m not sure how long it’s been falling apart but I’m surprised to have just noticed it now considering how often I pass by.
If I leave early enough, I have a few spare minutes to sit in that little park on the way. There’s a bench facing the playground and in the morning, the trees cast a fresh shadow overhead. Sometimes the crows inspect the playground equipment and I keep reminding myself to bring crackers one day. It’s funny how easily watching the birds can turn you into one of those park-bench bird feeders you see in every movie about New York. Not that I live in New York or anywhere near there, but you get the sentiment. And there’s something strange about sitting in a park during the quiet moments of the morning when the rest of the city is just waking up. Something strange and something wonderful. I used to work closing shifts so this whole morning thing has been an adjustment. I like to think I’m getting the hang of it but maybe I’m just the kind of person that finds comfort in routine. Besides the crows on the playground, I like to watch the sun peeking through the grass blades. I only thought that happened during the sunset, but it only makes sense it happens twice a day, right? I guess I had never thought about it before. I doubt I ever made the time to consider it.
After the car problems were resolved, I decided to continue walking to work. Yeah, it takes more time but time isn’t the most valuable commodity: experience is. Noticing the details of my commute had made me more mindful of wonderful little things occupying the mundane spaces of my life: the smell of my new kitchen hand soap, the fresh pinch of spring in the breeze, and the light streams through the windows at my new job. Sometimes I’m so caught up on being noticed that I forget how wonderful it is to notice.