I had a really tight schedule last night and I was home for about ten minutes before I had to run out the door again. I put some things in the kitchen, grabbed something quick to eat, and ran back out the door.
And when I did, I stopped, and took a breath, and another. And another. Because suddenly, the air was perfumed with the most delightful scent of blossoms I’ve ever noticed.
The question is, was it never there before, or was I just not paying attention? Despite the fact that I was in a rush, I noticed the scent and even took a few extra seconds to enjoy it as I headed out. How many times might I have noticed the same thing if I’d bothered to pay attention? If you’d asked me just ten minutes before, I’d have told you there was no scent in the air at all, so what changed?
I don’t know what made this evening different. It’s been suggested that perhaps the night-blooming trees and flowers had just done their thing, but I have a little trouble believing that it happens that suddenly. (Nature is not known for her tendency to flip the proverbial switch, after all.) It’s also possible that I hadn’t noticed because I’d been immersed in the scent earlier, and ten minutes inside was enough to reset my sense of smell so I couldn’t miss the perfumed air when I went back out.
Whatever the cause, it was a delightful gift from Mother Nature, and one that made me smile as I walked to my car. It made me wonder what else I miss on a daily basis because I’m just too busy thinking about other things to notice what’s literally right under my nose. Have I missed a lovely tree in bloom, or a flower as it sticks its head up from the earth? Do I hear the child practicing her violin as I get my mail and wander back to my front door? When was the last time a sunset got my attention?
I ask these questions not only because we can miss out on everyday beauty so easily, but also because paying attention drives our creativity. A lot of times, answers come because our attention lands on the right thing and it sparks the idea we’ve been looking for. If we hadn’t paid attention, we wouldn’t have had the idea.
If you have a mindfulness practice, attention may come easily to you, but regardless, pay attention to the little things this week and see what happens. What strikes you, what sparks you, what you had never even known about before. I bet you’ll find some interesting things as you look around, and I bet they’ll make you smile. I wouldn’t be surprised if you gain some inspiration, too!