It’s on. The routine has begun.
School started yesterday and I’m back on familiar roads, driving between the post office, the gas station and the local market. As I traverse routes fourteen years familiar, I try to remind myself to see these pathways with fresh eyes. Not just fall asleep at the wheel and move through turns and side streets with unconscious habit.
It’s a constant practice of stirring myself awake.
I reach for reminders of what it’s like to feel the new. To experience each moment, wide open. Just a month ago I wandered through the village of Big Sur, watching mountain sentries of that river valley reveal themselves at first daylight. Curiosity lead me to a courtyard full of statues and alters, where the nearby gas station attendant opened the padlock gate to let me inside.
“You just want to look around?”
“Well, I can open the gate for you.”
Later that same morning I settled in at the Big Sur River Inn for a cup of coffee by the fire. Three leathered bikers were eating breakfast and the one with the bandana tied around his forehead boldly invited me to join them on their weekend tour.
“Who knows!” he said, “It could be the most incredible day of your life. It’s beautiful today!”
I was heading in the opposite direction, not fated for a ride on the back of a Harley that morning. But what may have begun as a classic guy-tries-to-pick-up-girl scenario, actually blossomed. Once it was established that I would certainly not be joining them but that I was interested to hear about their trip while I finished my coffee, Enthusiastic Biker’s friend joined in. He was more quiet and about 175 pounds bigger.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but within twenty minutes a genuine conversation unfolded between us. Topics spanned our children (“they grow up so fast!”), Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” (“I just saw my daughter dance this production at her university”), to the Salem witch trials (“Can you imagine living in those times?” ).
Though we all may have been different ages and had different interests, we shared one thing in common: a curiosity to experience something new. A willingness to share about ourselves. And it seemed easier to do since we all were out of our familiar elements.
So, as I make my way through that same cereal aisle at the grocery store back home – the one I’ve perused plenty of times – how do I keep my experience with the Cheerios as fresh as my fireside chat with the bikers?
I guess for now, step one is just asking the question.