Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stop and Look Around

Recently I caught up with an old friend I hadn't seen in years. Ironically, she lives in a nearby state about two hours away. She had emailed a description of the town where she lives and I looked it up on a map. The area was located in a region that I had not visited before so the route was duly noted and I headed over for a visit.

When we finally met, I couldn't help but gush about the locale where she lives. It is a hilly area compared to where I live, nearly enclosed by dense forest and breathtaking views. "Wow. What a drive," I smiled. "You didn't tell me how lovely it is here."

"Really? You think so?" She shrugged. "I've been here so long I hardly notice it at all."

This isn't the first time I have encountered this nonchalance about where one lives. Visiting folks on Kauai, I was told that they "got used to" the incredible beauty of the region. Friends in Las Vegas said they got bored with all the hoopla about the nearby restaurants and entertainment and only visited the night spots when they were showing visitors around.

Too bad. But I guess it's human nature to fall into a rut and ignore the charms that surround us on a daily basis.

This time of year is admittedly a bit dismal. I read the other day that mid-January is considered to be the most depressing time of the year. Something about the post-holiday winter doldrums and the length of time before the arrival of spring.

But, hey. I already have daffodils shooting up near the front porch. The weather has been quite sunny though bitterly cold in recent weeks, but those little flowers are going to try to make an appearance, even if they get stopped in the process. Their perseverance is encouraging and shows me that another season can't be too far off.

No doubt other yards in the area have signs of spring peeking out. Buds on tree limbs. Crocuses about to open. I even saw a large rabbit hopping around despite air temperatures in the teens.

The trick is to pay attention and notice what is around you.

Perhaps the stimulation of undiscovered areas is why some people love to travel and experience new things. They buy a camper or RV and drive or even fly to recapture the thrill of some former encounter. Discovery and the experience brings excitement.

We might all benefit from taking a fresh look at our surroundings. Instead of spending money to transport ourselves and perhaps our families to distant locations, we need to stop and refocus where we live. I'll bet there are restaurants and other establishments right in your own community that you haven't tried or visited. During this lull in the seasonal change, do yourself a favor and walk through the door of that store or eatery. Try something new and different and see if that isn't a little refreshing.

Recently I visited a small store in my town that had always intrigued me. For one reason or another, I hadn't been in it before. I was pleasantly surprised by the huge inventory of collectibles and antiques! I found several items to purchase and as I was paying at the cash register, the owner asked me where I was from.

"Right here," I smiled awkwardly. "Been here for 15 years."

"And you have never been in before? Why not?"

I had no brilliant response. "Well, I was working and now I'm retired. Just didn't get around to it, I guess."

That was about all I could say and even that response sounded fairly weak.

Next time you are longing for a trip to another area, even hoping to find a new restaurant or store in which to browse, stop and take a look around. There is probably somewhere new and exciting within a short drive. It might have just what you are looking for and will almost certainly broaden your horizons.

The experience might make you better appreciate what you have. That's not a small thing.

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