What If a Creature of Habit Turned Left?

This morning, I turned left.

Left TurnThat’s a literal statement, not a political declaration of any kind.  I turned left at the park while taking the dog for his six a.m. walk.  Normally, I turn right out of habit, but the sunrise today was so beautiful, puffy clouds rinsed by pink and salmon and gold, that I turned east so I could watch it as long as possible.

If you think I’m a creature of routine, even stuck in a rut, you’re right.  I have several routes I take in the morning, but if we go to the park, I always head right.  Our local park is smallish, about a mile in circumference, oval-shaped with an elementary school at one end, a playground in the middle, and sports fields at the west end.  It felt  . . . strange to go left, but as I headed east, glorying in the sunrise, I felt a little liberated.  I walked with a new bounce.  (Okay, that might have been because Marco was tugging on the leash.)  Things were just different enough that I was more engaged than usual.

I exchanged greetings with dog walkers who were usually going out the east end of the park as I was striding around the west end.  I met a pair of mastiffs I’d never seen before.  I saw the sunflowers faces, instead of their backs, in the school’s garden, and the jolt of goldy-orange brightened my day.  I spotted a bunny under a bush that would have been hidden from view if I were coming from the other direction.  Nothing of great magnitude, but the changed perspective woke me up.

A New View

I actually started thinking about how we get stuck in one perspective and see nature/people/issues from only one viewpoint.  What if we deliberately set out to study something from a different vantage point?  What if I embarked on a discussion with my teenager assuming she was right?  What if I listened to a different newscast, one with a different political slant than my usual, and looked for statements I agreed with?  What might I see or notice if I drove to the gym via a different route?

Many of you are probably  laughing at me, or shaking your head in disbelief that I could have found a simple walk in the park such a revelation.  But I really did.  I came home determined to find other ways to shake up my perspective, everything from trying to vacuum or brush my teeth left-handed (which I read helps make new connections in your brain and which will probably result in lots of cavities since I am hopelessly uncoordinated with my left hand), to starting conversations on topics I would usually avoid or with people I would usually avoid, to trying new routes to places I go all the time.  None of these things are difficult or time-consuming, but they might just result in more revelations.

Tomorrow morning, I might turn left again.  Or . . . maybe I’ll leave the path altogether and go straight across the grass.  Want to join me?