People talk about how if you’re always looking down you won’t see the world around you and what’s going on. This can apply to how you go through life, not always physically looking down, but metaphorically speaking. Are you looking at all the bad when there’s a whole life of good surrounding you? Are there rewards waiting for you and you didn’t even know it?
Never have I had such a great personal learning regarding this than when I just so happened to be looking down.
Recently I spent time over in Myanmar. Part of the trip went through Bagan. Bagan during the 9th-13th centuries was the capital for the Pagan Kingdom, which later unified the region into what we now know as Myanmar. This was a site where rulers would continue to build their own temples, pagodas and monasteries to ‘out do’ those that came before them. Some of these have fallen victim to the age of time. Currently standing there are over 2000 temples and pagodas, if you count the partially standing ones you quickly move into the quantity of over 3000.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of history to be uncovered and learnt as you wander from site to site. As a keen photographer, in my downtime, I was ready to get some magical shots to try and encapsulate the entire area. At every temple I was changing lenses, trying to line everything up to look perfect. Some of the end results I am in love with. However, that’s not where my learning comes from.
Each of the pagodas are spread throughout the countryside, for some of them you have to walk through fields to get up close and personal. My brain was always looking at the next temple in preparation for how I could capture it the best way I knew how with a camera. The only other task I had assigned my brain was to make sure that I had steady ground to walk on and to not trip over anything. Nothing exciting about walking. Or is there?
On day two of walking through sites, my brain had begun to switch off on the walking parts and re-engage when ready for a photo. But then something caught my eye. A speck of red on the ground. A bottle cap? Maybe colourful paper? I paused out of interest and squatted down. It was an arachnid known as trombidiidae, or more commonly know as red velvet mites. I was fascinated, by the colour, the texture, everything! I really had to take a few minutes to admire it because it wasn’t something I had normally come across. I thought to myself ‘wow, how lucky am I to have seen this, I might not see another for the entire trip’. I was wrong!
From that point on my reticular activating system was keen to see what else came into view. These velvet mites suddenly became very un-rare, I could take 5 paces and already encounter another. It went like this for the rest of the day. Go to a new temple site? Mites. Stop on the side of the road? More mites. Taking a lunch break? Mites! To some, this might have suddenly become a boring spectacle finding the same creature everywhere, but to me each was an individual that needed to be appreciated for the colour and size. I had gone the entire first day without coming across these, and now they were everywhere! The weather hadn’t changed, the living conditions hadn’t changed. I had changed.
I hadn’t changed how I was walking. I was still looking at the ground, but now it was the most exciting thing to do! Finding something of interest to me, something that made me happy had changed the whole experience of walking to the next temple. As much as I was looking forward to seeing another temple, I was now ready to enjoy what had become an ‘adventure’ instead of just a walk to the temple.
It made me really reflect on ‘how many opportunities in life do we pass by?’. You might be thinking you’re looking for them, but are you really? Has your focus changed at all to check if there are more ways to enjoy the world? When you do, you will surprise yourself with where they might pop up from. Take off the blinkers of your own life and have a fresh look.
You never know, you ‘mite’ find something new.