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"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." – Maya Angelou

Learn How to Look at Life and Work with New Eyes

Images of New York City: through a different lens. PART 1

When we look at life—what do we see?


Have we become so busy, so numb that we slide through our daily existence, go through the motions, in automatic mode—registering little, seeing even less, and fail to be inspired—emotionally blind?


Oh, we see the physical objects—the sky, the clouds, the airplane, cars, buildings, bridges, people, animals, flowers—we see it all. But does it register? What effect does it have on us? Do we see the human behind the wheel, behind the dolly, behind the counter, behind the desk, behind the stethoscope, behind the scalpel? Do we see and notice the person who passes us the ice cream, who makes us the hotdog, who vacuums the hotel hallway, who rings up our purchase in the grocery store?


I attended a writers’ conference in New York two weeks ago—what an experience it had been! But more about that in a later post. I also wandered around with a camera. This time, I tried to look at things from a contrasting perspective—I tried to see the human aspect in all of what surrounds us. I tried to take a new look at ordinary daily life.


As I clicked away, I wondered, what will happen if we learn to look at life, at work, and at play, with new eyes?

What if we learn to look deeper? Look behind the obvious. Open our hearts. Be inspired. Be amazed. Care again. Believe again. Because in the end, it matters.


(I captioned the images and added comments. Enjoy part one!)


I have yet to come across a human being who does not get a smile and has trouble not stepping closer, upon seeing an ice cream truck parked, open for business. What does it take to make you happy? And I’m not talking about food. What steps do you take on a regular basis to make it more possible?


Nathan’s Hotdogs—original since 1916. But the ingredients are fresh, every day! How original are you? Are you a good copier? Which is fine. Or do you love to come up with new ideas, push yourself, and keep pushing, until you excel or make your dream a reality?


Do you work for an organization or a boss who believes in only ONE WAY to get things done? They do not encourage input from everybody, encouraging initiative? They have never heard of collective intelligence, taking advantage of everyone’s relative strengths. It might serve us well to remember that there are often more than only one right answer, and often more than one way to get a task done well.


We are all going places. Even if we stay home. Where are you going? What is the direction of your life? What are your dreams? (Unfortunately, a GPS can’t help us answer this nagging question.) What steps are you taking today, to get you (a little) closer to that dream, that goal?


I quote from their website: “We are a bank. We are a team of 9,800 individuals all committed to a single mission: to help you make progress toward your goals.”


What is your goal? To make money? What else? Retire early? What else? What is your 90 day, your 5 year, and 25-year goal? Serious.


The evening I took this image, I had the option to walk, to take a ride in a fancy bicycle rickshaw, or in an ordinary yellow cab. I opted to walk and take pictures.


When we claim we have no options, is it necessarily true? Or is it the easier way out? We make choices every single day, we are just not aware of them because much of what we do is habit. But it’s still choices. And habits can be changed once we understand how they work.


Having had my fill after several hours I headed back with the tube and got off at Westminster station: it was time for Big Ben and the Westminster Abby. In time for the noon hour chime, I leaned against the ten feet cast-iron fence, drinking in the intricate design. I wandered outside these majestic buildings, then all along the river walkway, being more fascinated by the multitudes of people, than with the architectural wonders. I clicked away at a few stray gulls, at tourists, laborers, business people and a homeless man, as the day and the city warmed up around me. I regretted my decision to layer-clothe following the previous two days of near-freezing. It was steaming.


After heading back to Fulham, it was only appropriate to end the day at a different establishment and test my palate. Boma Green, bar, and restaurant, did not disappoint. I could never tire listening to the Queen’s tongue, spoken by the locals. Beautiful, good old English!


There remained enough daylight for a brisk stroll along the Thames river walkway at Putney Bridge. Afterward, I sat on a bench and watched two stray Canadian geese frolic in the water. Along the distant shore, a sweep boat with eight rowers slid on the surface, shrouded by the failing light.


Seventy-two hours is not a long time. I did not visit any of the museums or entered any of the majestic buildings I passed. I know, I missed much. But I also found so much more. I will enjoy the paintings and art work another time. For now, it was good to walk the streets of small parts of London, getting on “eye-level” with the locals, being able to pause, mingle, listen, feel, taste, and experience the place and its people.


For a brief period, I felt its heartbeat—and it was strong. Vibrant. Alive.
Thank you, London!

When we dare to do something different, our eyes open to new perspectives, to new possibilities. Whether we visit a foreign city or revisit our own lives, this remains true.


A new perspective, a new insight becomes possible. We can change things. We can change. Growth, (and adventure), then becomes possible.


But we have to open our eyes. And dare. Then do.


What is one thing you can do differently, whether visiting a foreign city or in your own life?


© 2018 Danie Botha. All Rights Reserved.

All photos by Danie Botha.

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