05 December 2014

What’s the view like from your door?

Can you spare 5 minutes?  Just five minutes before you rush off to school or wherever you are planning to rush off to.  Actually, I need 10 minutes of your time.   On two consecutive days.  Possible?  Ok. 

Just step out of your house.  You can either survey whatever is before you or you could focus on something small.  Maybe a patch of grass.  Perhaps a bunch of flowers.  Or even a single flower or leaf.  Do it slowly. 

Five minutes is a long time when you do something that usually takes you less than a second.  Just think about it.  If someone asked you to describe what you see when you step out your door, you will probably mention the large objects.  ‘There’s a black gate, a wall, a mango tree, a house whose roof can be seen above the wall, the tops of some coconut trees and some wires,’ or something along those lines.  You won’t mention the details because, perhaps, you don’t spend much time looking at the details. 

So if you take five minutes you might even discover that you’ve missed a lot of things in your garden.  Like that brick under the jambu tree now covered with moss or how the grass near the garden tap seems greener or the kite that must have got entangled in the branch such a long time ago that only the frame now remains or how there are dried leaves stuck in the hard-to-get-at place between some flower pots.  Things like that. 

After you do this for five minutes and go to school or wherever you were planning to go, you might think about the small exercise and look at people and things around you a little bit more carefully.  You might discover that although your eyes are open, you don’t see much or at least that there are things you miss.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s something we all do.  We see big objects.  We see things that stare at us or things that seem to be screaming ‘NOTICE ME, NOTICE ME’ or ‘HERE I AM, CAN YOU SEE ME?’  We all miss the details. 

Anyway, don’t forget the second part of the exercise.  The five minutes on the second day.  You will see the big objects, the gate, the wall, the tops of coconut trees, the roof of the house next door, the wires etc.  But you will not miss those small things, details of the kind we mentioned above. 

This is not an exercise to see if you remember what you saw the previous day, though.  It’s a little bit harder.  I am asking you to see if anything has changed. 

Now if someone asked you to describe what’s outside your house today and someone else asked the same question tomorrow, the chances are that the two descriptions would be identical.  It’s not the same when you catch the details. 

The leaf has grown or looks like it has dried up a bit.  A bud has bloomed here, a flower is wilting there.  The stone that has somehow rolled on to the driveway seems to have been dislodged by a wheel or by the rain.  A mango has ripened.  Another has been attacked by a squirrel or a bird.  A third has fallen.  Things like that.

The world around us is full of little things. A quick sweep of the eye and it seems like nothing has changed.  Take a little time and you will discover that everything is changing. All the time. 

It doesn’t have to be the view from the door of your house, remember.  You can look at anything.  Just five minutes on consecutive days.  Who knows, you might find it an utterly fascinating exercise that you might want to do it every day!

  * This is the tenth article in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! 

Other articles in this series
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?



In a deeper sense; isn't it this change that is also known as "anithya" in Buddhism?