I found this Yogi Tea tag in the grass last weekend and it sparked a bit of inspiration in me to write again.
(Side note: I find it’s been hard to literally just sit and write sometimes, because I’m always wondering if it’s good enough or important enough to post. As if I have thousands of readers and could possibly let them down if my writing sucks somehow. Who cares right? I’m writing for me. Well and for you too. But mainly for me just so I can keep being creative and following my passion in life to be an encourager through my writing.)
The quote on the tag said “Life is a gift. Experience is beauty.” Such a simple phrase. And I thought maybe it meant something deeper that I just wasn’t getting. But then I thought, no, it’s pretty straightforward. Life is a gift. And the experiences we have do make it beautiful and human.
I had been on my way to having an experience at that very moment. My boyfriend and a few of our other friends were taking me on a hike up a trail in Los Angeles that led to the famous Griffith Observatory. I had never been up this trail, and I had never really done much hiking before either, mainly because I had never really been in good enough shape too hike anywhere before giving up from exhaustion. Cardio was never my thing, however, now it kind of is. I am learning to love it, especially if it is attached to doing something fun like sight-seeing or exploring new terrain and taking photographs. That’s one of my favorite things to do – as I am part photographer. I love taking photographs, even if it is of the most ordinary thing, but the way I see it, it doesn’t look so ordinary to me –in fact when I do photograph something, I try to seek the beauty in it.
I think I’ve written on the subject beauty seeking before. I got the idea from one of my favorite writer’s, Jennifer Pastiloff, who encouraged the idea of seeking beauty on purpose in everyday life. I think it’s such an important practice to take up because it really makes you appreciate the smaller moments in life, that may otherwise be overlooked. So I decided that I would try to seek beauty in everything I do, especially in the adventures I go on.
Experience really is what makes life beautiful. It doesn’t always have to be something spectacular either – it could be simply taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. But when you shift your focus from it just being an ordinary walk, to really slowing down and taking the time to appreciate all the finer details, it becomes more of an experience. You find beauty in the places in between ordinary and extraordinary. You begin to become more aware, to notice, to search, to find. You look for things on purpose and by doing so you create a positive memory in your brain that triggers a feeling of gratitude and peace.
In the past, I used to instead seek what I could complain about first. This is such an unhealthy practice, but so many of us do this unknowingly. Tell me if this sounds familiar. You go for a hike. The first thoughts that begin to pop up in your mind are:
“Oh…what if it gets too hot?… What if I become tired and I can’t make it up the hill?… I think I might need better shoes because these aren’t the most comfortable… Oh but hiking may take too long, I have other things to do… My legs are aching and I’m ready for this to be over now…”
These thoughts become such a distraction from the experience that we find ourselves not even present at all and completely miss the beauty of the experience itself. We become so immersed in our worries over all the details that don’t really matter because they are all future thoughts, that we forget the beauty that surrounds us right then and there. How at that very moment we are on top of a mountain overlooking the city. We forget that we are surrounded by nature, the swaying trees and colorful flowers. We take for granted the fact that our amazing bodies are actually carrying us up this hill in the first place, that our lungs are capable of breathing in enough air to sustain us, that we are able to see the breathtaking sights around us. We forget all this all because we are not present. We are not aware, but rather our minds are set in the future. We are always thinking of a later time, and yet we don’t realize how we are just fast forwarding so quickly through experiences that we miss them entirely.
I regret the fact that I used to do this all the time. That I couldn’t wait until something was over. Even presently I catch myself doing it sometimes, especially when it comes to capturing moments for social media. I want to get it on camera just so I can post it to the world, but then I end up missing the experience in real time. Rather, I have to re-live it through my pictures, which isn’t nearly as wonderful.
We have to slow down. I think that’s what it is. We live in a world that is so fast paced that we forget to just stop and take a look around once in a while. We take for granted so many things that we don’t realize all that we are truly blessed with.
As I walked up the trail, I made sure this time that I was present. That I slowed myself down rather than tried to race to the top just to say I accomplished my goal. I took time to linger in the sun, to bask in its rays seeping through the branches. It was a beautiful experience. A beauty seeking moment for sure.
Let us relish in the experiences of life. Rather than categorizing them as bad, good, waste of time, or spectacular; let us find simple beauty within each one. Let us find gratitude in each moment and honor the time we have here on Earth rather than worrying over, rushing through it, or taking it for granted.
This is my prayer for us all. This is my hope for us all. That we learn to seek beauty in everything. That we never forget how good we have it, even if all seems bad at the moment. There is always a blessing.
Life is a gift. We should treat it as such.
And beauty is the experience.
The Self Love Challenge of the day: Live each day like it is a gift and slow down to really experience it.