I’m trying to train myself to pay closer attention. So I take a camera with me when I go out for my daily walks. It helps me spot beauty I might otherwise overlook.
One of my regular haunts is the library. I know the route so well I can read a book while walking back with my new treasures. Sometimes I can’t help myself. Starting a new book, particularly one I requested weeks earlier, is too delicious to wait the seven minutes it takes me to get home.
So far I haven’t stumbled over my feet on the way home, but I’ve missed things. The route takes me along two big parking lots and across an expanse of walkway outside Prospera Place, Kelowna’s sports and performance arena. Not much there to delight the eye or kick the imagination into gear.
Last spring I was walking back from the library, camera around my neck, when a small clump of iris stopped me. I mean really stopped me. I love iris, all the variations, the deep colours, the spicy fragrance. They’re a yearly gift. Divide the corms, and they show their gratitude with even more blossoms the next year.
But these were the most beautiful iris I had ever seen, and they were in a completely unlikely spot, in a small bed behind a bench, beside a parking lot. They weren’t massed and intentional. They didn’t create a big show. They just quietly glowed, the white petals edged with royal purple.
I’d overlooked them before, but that day I had my camera. I was paying attention, and the iris were my reward.
They made me wonder what else I miss, in my preoccupation or haste. So I’ve been watching for beauty in places where I tend not to pay attention: the sunny dandelion growing through a crack in a sidewalk, the design of grates the city puts around trees, the lovely curve of the staves around the garbage cans along the waterfront.
I’m finding beauty everywhere. There’s hope for me yet. I just might learn to pay closer attention.