About a year ago, I began practicing “present focus”. At first, it was hard and I thought it was new age mumbo jumbo. But it basically amounts to paying attention to the things around you in the moment. Paying attention to how you feel about them in the moment. I had already been that person who was enthralled by the beauty of cities, and present focus only highlights that. Look at what’s around you, and actually see it. Novel idea, right? What I found is that once I focused on the present around me, I became far more attuned to my own feelings, thoughts, and impressions. Not just about those things, or even just about my environment, but about how they inspire me and, more generally, what I want to do with my day or even my life.
I started by unplugging my headphones while walking to work. Rather than listening to music or audiobooks, I began to pay attention to the sconces on the building Old Navy shares with the Hotel Palomar. I noticed the friezes on the Phelan Building. The card dealer doing magic tricks on the train. The mangled fork in the road. The somewhat mundane, everyday things that simply escape our attention when we’re rushing off to the actual destination. These things are usually funny or quirky or sad or just plain lovely. We notice these things when we’re traveling, and I’m now tickled to find such things in my own backyard. This pursuit grew. I was then practicing present focus while running, while biking, while hiking, while swimming (stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe, stroke…). I learned so much about my surroundings and my self.
Even still, I kept coming back to noticing the everyday things on my walks around town. I’m often struck by how many interesting things I find, particularly when there’s old world beauty in a new building or an unexpected art piece in a shop or office window. I’ll post my finds here, among my other finds from around town, and I hope you’ll share some with me too.