Look Around You!

I wrote about differences of countries which has given some difficulty to set roots down. This, in turn, got me thinking about the reasons why people choose where they want to live. I even asked for some of the reasons, and reading the responses, I realised that there were as many reasons as there were replies. To me, this goes to prove that people are individuals and follow their own instincts and reasons.

Yesterday, we sat down and were watching a program on TV whilst waiting for our food to arrive. The program actually showed the pilgrims circling the Ka’aba in Mecca. These people, who might have paid thousands of euros for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, appreciate the experience, the sights, the sounds.. the complete package.

I think that this is true for most of us when we head out for some trip, maybe especially a long-awaited holiday trip. First, we saved money for it. We purchased the tickets, chose the hotels, and finally, it was time to fly! Once in the destination, it is time to appreciate the sights, sounds, food… the complete experience. It creates experiences that we talk about for the longest time.

And after the magnificent holiday, we return home, to our everyday surroundings, maybe feeling a bit glum. The everyday grind begins, we walk down the same roads and pass the same spots, day after day after day. Sometimes, using our phones while we walk, sometimes we are lost in the music from our earphones, and sometimes we look around us, wondering when the leaves appeared in the trees because we didn’t notice that earlier. And all of a sudden, we pay attention to our familiar surroundings more. But as they are familiar, we soon fall back into our old ways.

I think that sometimes that feeling of appreciating one’s surroundings is more clear for those who are either travelling to that destination or have relocated to that area than for those who have always lived there themselves. Even for those who move to the area, the surroundings can become such an everyday thing that you don’t really pay any attention to it anymore. Myself, I sometimes think that the locals in Malaga, for instance, are so lucky as they live just next to the Mediterranean Sea and can stroll on the beachfront whenever they want. But do they think the same about, let’s say, us Finns. “Oh! They are so lucky to have all the green fields and trees all around!”

One elderly lady told me that she doesn’t use Internet at all, and that she let her daughter take care of those things that she cannot do herself in the bank, or other offices “as everything goes to the Inrernet nowadays”. The reason? She would still want to connect to other people personally, not just via chats and other apps. A valid point.

Maybe it is the same principle for us to connect with our surroundings?

Back in 2014, my Wifey and I relocated to Lisdoonvarna, Ireland. Every day, I would walk from our quarters to work, a stroll that took me about 8 minutes, but somehow I usually would.make it in 15 minutes, because I would take my time to appreciate the scenery. Yes, the village is in the middle of nowhere, and at the time, the cell phone connection was very poor. But for me, this village with 860 people was a slice of heaven, as it was so different from where we came from. And I got to live there! I got to see the clouds roll in from behind the hills in the moor, and the sunshine play on the tall grass.

For me, it was spectacular to see the buildings being painted to bright colours and to take that short walk from our quarters to my workplace because even the surroundings allowed me to destress.

Now that we divide our time in Spain and in Finland, it is perhaps easier to appreciate the surroundings than if we were to live only in one place. But even so, there have been, and most likely will be, days when I have to remind myself to appreciate everything there is around us.

Sometimes, I try to snap photos of the views and sights in order to preserve a certain angle and colours. But more often than not, I find out that the vivid memory of the moment is more bright and colourful than the photo I just took.

But when you are at the moment that prompts you to take the photo, it can bring back memories even after years, because the moment itself was so meaningful and appreciated. Like the photo above – it is #NoFilters, believe or not. When I look at the photo, I can see that even though the colours are very vivid and bright, the reality I remember was still brighter and the blue sea was bluer, and you cannot feel the +33⁰C heat from the photo, that I remember on my skin from the afternoon sun. And to think we lived near the spot where I took the photo.

But if we just snap photos in order to preserve the moments and places without actually appreciating them, can we get this kind of reaction when we look at the snapshots later?

Many responses to my previous post concerning the reasons to relocate, dealt with surroundings; sunshine, relaxed lifestyle, the Finnish summers.. for these people, the appreciation comes naturally in their favoured surroundings, but if we have lived there our whole lives, will it be different? When we keep on walking to the same bus stop and taking the same bus to work long enough, do we even care where and which kind of areas we live in?

But what if we could change that?

Instead of staring blankly at the break lights of the car in front of us, we took a look around us, wondering what kind of street food joint was there or when that little boutique opened in the space that was previously occupied by.. what? We might notice the small buds on the trees signalling the coming summer and might hear the first calls of the seagulls of the year.

Would this exercise in appreciation result in more photos of our own neighbourhoods from angles we haven’t seen, or thought about, before?

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