A Google search this morning using the words Sherlock Holmes “look left” came up with a scripted walkthrough of an online Sherlock Holmes game called ‘The Awakened’. A most apt falling into these musings. An awakening of sorts. An attending to and opening into the filtered view of the world that we inhabit daily. We unconsciously fall into routines of being, of doing, of following set paths and habits that take us to the exact same habitual places each day. But perhaps allow yourself at times to look left rather than just right, allow your gaze to hover, to wander, to have no purpose at all. Take time noticing your habitual surroundings, and allow yourself to be surprised by what you see, hear, feel, taste, touch. Perhaps you may even notice that statue you’ve been walking past for years.
I met up with someone this week who for years has been exiting the Baker Street tube station on her way to work. Many of us know of that the famed fictional detective Sherlock Holmes who was meant to reside at Baker Street and would not be surprised by a large statue dedicated to him there. This was the meeting point I suggested to my friend, for us to rendezvous at the statue. She asked, surprised: “What statue?” “Why the statue of Sherlock Holmes of course”, I answered. Silence and then incredulity followed. She had never noticed or known about the statue. Had always left the station in a hurry focused on the path ahead to crossing the road at the traffic light on the right of the tube station exit, and had not, in all those years, looked left. Looking left she would have noticed the statue, a larger than life replica of the fictional man himself.
This begs a question: how often have you arrived somewhere or have walked past something in your everyday life that you have failed to notice? How often have you not looked left? How unaware are you of your surroundings and what might you be missing out on? Now not having noticed the statue does not make a huge difference in my friend’s life but one may wonder what else has not been seen or become aware of by keeping her focus only on what she knows and is walking toward, not allowing the possibility for distraction, new seeing and perchance awakening to darken the threshold of her day. And she is not alone in this. We all are highly focused on our to-do list, on what we know to be true, loathe being disturbed by the uncertainty of change and the annoyance of disruption, are wary of starting a new conversation with our daily lives.
I attended a morning workshop with David Whyte recently who spoke eloquently about being in conversation with others and oneself, about the starting of new conversations, and with the starting of a new conversation of the necessity of first stopping the one we are already in. How often do we start a sentence or conversation or way of relating that may not be the most skilled for that moment finding ourselves too stubborn and embarrassed to stop and start again? How often do we stay with the habitual course because change challenges our comfort zone, even if we are unhappily settled in it? To start a new way of relating we need to first stop the way we are on, even mid sentence or mid judgement or mid action if need be. Pause and allow the unknown to creep in, waiting for a new conversation to arise. One that meets the power of this moment. Learning comfort and patience with silence, with stopping, with ambivalence, even with breaking promises if they serve old believes that have become untenable, supports the starting of new conversations. Starting a new conversation, awakening to the unnoticed requires a certain comfort with the unknown, with the messy chaos of creativity, with the un-explored path and the un-opened door, with looking left more.
This is my task for 2016. Paying attention to new conversations and staying still long enough within each of these moments as I awaken to what has not been noticed before. To look left more often and allow my focus to wander off the path.
What is yours?