A minute before the train was scheduled to arrive, a man in his early twenties rushed unto the platform. He was wearing flannel pyjama bottoms and a black varsity windbreaker. Unlike the other awaiting passengers, he had no backpack or luggage. He held his phone in one hand and a plastic grocery bag in the other. He was completely unencumbered by reading materials, headphones or a laptop.
On the station’s only bench, three elderly ladies sat with neatly combed silver hair and watery eyes. They weren’t reading the newspaper, checking cellphones or chatting; they just sat in wait. They treating waiting as an action unto itself. They didn’t overshadow their wait with preoccupation or external entertainment.
Even when the train was 20 minutes late, the women didn’t dig through their purses for something to read and the young man didn’t endlessly scroll through social media postings. Their wait had an air of grace.
If you are constantly seeking external sources of mental and emotional stimulation you become desensitized to the glisten and breath of life. Artificial sweeteners may be sweeter than sugar, but they can also make your coffee offensively saccharine.
When you’re out and about in the world, take the time to pay attention; to both physically and metaphorically smell the roses.
Take note of what people are wearing, listen to what people are saying. A street is more varied and authentic than any Instagram feed.
Observation is also key to expanding your perspective. If you are always internally focused on yourself and your group of friends, you’ll fail to see the varied experiences of those around you. Similarly, because we have the capacity to curate what we see and don’t see on social media, our online observations of others are insulated and do not reflect the breadth of the world we live in.
When you expand your perspective and observe the world the way it is versus how you’d like to see it, you will increase your capacity for critical thinking. When you see and understand life experiences that are not your own, you have the capacity to objectively analyze issues from all sides and perspectives.
For inspiration, here are some of the beautiful sights I've seen.