At first all I noticed was a little pink plastic petal. And as I started the first lap of my morning run, I thought of the birthday party from the day before. I’d seen the family putting up balloons and getting things ready in the gazebo, and decided it must be left over from then. Stopping after the first lap to do a few pushups and squats, I saw the pink petal again. And though I was looking right at them, I didn’t notice the dozens more pink and red petals blown by the wind to the far side of the gazebo.
Not until I started thinking about how someone should have picked it up, that is. “How rude,” I thought as all the other petals finally caught my attention, “for people to think someone else will clean up after them. What a shame.” It bothered me a bit, as I started running lap two, that my nice clean park had been mistreated by the previous day’s partyer’s. Coming back, the second lap complete and beginning the next round of pushups and squats, I then noticed the 10 or so glass bottles and bits of broken glass on the ground. As I circled around the gazebo a couple times to catch my breath I felt sad that anyone would be so careless and insensitive. “How did I miss those the first time?” I wondered a little surprised, as my annoyance grew over this mess left behind.
As I began my third lap, I considered how unfair it is that people will take advantage of a public place then leave their trail behind, assuming it’s someone else’s job to clean things up. I continued thinking about this for almost half the third lap, feeling frustrated that my pretty place wasn’t so pretty this morning. It helped however, when I remembered to allow people to be who and what they are, even if I don’t like it, and trust that all things will work out perfectly.
With the third lap complete and again pacing to catch my breath before the last set of pushups, I noticed the pizza sauce wrappers in the middle of the floor! “What’s going on here?” I thought to myself. “It’s as if things are just appearing that I hadn’t noticed before!”
And that’s when it hit me. I’m seeing more and more of the trash each time I come back because now I’m paying attention to it. Because I’m focused upon and expecting to see evidence of it. All the trash and bottles and wrappers had been there the first time I’d stopped, but I was so focused on enjoying my workout and the beautiful morning that initially I truly only saw that first pink petal. It wasn’t until I started thinking about it and looking for the trash that I saw it. Once I saw it, then I couldn’t stop seeing it, and that began ruining my ability to enjoy my morning. If I could have let go of that first petal and not wondered why the careless people had left it there, it’s very likely I would never have seen all the rest, and the park would still have felt beautiful to me. But because I chose to see it, think about it, and then look for more, that’s what I got.
Interestingly, a lot of life is this way. We think things are going pretty well for us until we start noticing how they aren’t. A lover is nearly perfect until we start focusing on those one or two small things that aren’t perfect. And the more attention we give to those things, the more of those things we see. The more we see and pay attention to, the harder it is to not see them. Soon we see so many things we don’t like, that we don’t like our lover much anymore, even though they are the same person they were when they were nearly perfect!
We’ve got a great job until the day something happens that gets us complaining about how awful our job is. And because one thought does indeed lead to another, soon we find all sorts of reasons to hate our job, dreading now the very thing that used to excite us.
I’m not implying we should ignore the things that aren’t good or right in our world and pretend they don’t exist. But what I am saying is that the more attention you give to those things, the more you notice them. The more you notice them, the more miserable you become. Put your focus back on what you like about your lover, your job or anything else this may apply to. The trash was there whether I paid attention to it or not. But in choosing to see it then fixate on it, I allowed it to ruin my morning, rather than just letting it go and appreciating what was still beautiful about the park.
Stop seeing what you don’t like. Quit looking for it and expecting to find it. If you expect to find it, then surely you will! Focus instead on seeing the things you do like because by the same token, you’ll see more and more of those things as well. And that makes for such a nicer morning.
Unless, that is, you just want to find things to complain about.
As always, it is my goal to uplift, inspire and help others to heal their lives. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this with you. - Kim