The sun sets over a tropical sea. A blue heron takes flight. A village boy holdings his young sister’s hand as they navigate a busy market. When travelling, we seek to immerse ourselves in the spectacular, absorb the exotic. Removed from our everyday settings, our senses come alive. We feel the warmth of the sun on our backs, hear the bird’s song, breathe deeply the salty ocean breeze.
As humans we instinctively pause when encountering beauty. Studies show that infants prefer viewing photographs of attractive people. Scenic highways provide frequent viewpoints so drivers can safely pull aside to soak in the sights. Many a man has earned himself a sharp word or smack for allowing his eyes to linger just a moment too long on a beautiful woman.
Yet, as we go about the day-to-day, day after day, from A to B, B to C, wash, rinse, repeat, routine narrows our vision. We’re gradually blinded to our surroundings as our minds trade observation for efficiency. Days blur into weeks and discouragement sets in. When we finally take a vacation, we flop on the nearest lounge chair or check the boxes as we shuffle from one site to another.
If we fail to feed our hearts with beauty, and let the wonder slowly drain out of our lives, we’re left depleted. We turn inward and lose the ability to focus beyond our own immediate needs. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
How do we prevent “beauty blindness”? Let’s make a habit of seeking out wonder and delight in our everyday surroundings. Even in our routine comings and goings, we can find beauty if we open our eyes. Smile at a child in the grocery line, admire the tenacious green shoot growing in a sidewalk crack.
Shake up your routine. Do you always go to the same coffee shop? Try the one across the street, even if it’s also a Starbucks. Do you sit in the same seat in class or on the train? Park your car in the same spot at work? Order the same sandwich at Subway? Wear the same shade of lip gloss? Give yourself little jolts of newness, shift your perspective. Lift your eyes from your phone screen and look around.
I challenge you to take a photo of something beautiful each day for a week. Share your encouragement with us by posting it on Twitter or Instagram tagged with #seekingbeauty. Live richly, carry it with you and travel well every day.