I thought I was being smart by combining lunch with an errand the other day. After watering the dog, I poured a can of chicken noodle into a coffee cup and hopped into my car. It was organic low sodium, if that makes a difference. Well, at least until I added a teaspoon of pink himalayan sea salt.
But I never realized how bumpy the roads were–the same roads I’ve driven hundreds of times–until I tried to eat my soup.
Why does this mean anything you may ask? Bear with me and I’ll tell you.
Balancing the cup while taking large gulps and trying not to scald myself, I started to get annoyed about all the bumps that until then I hadn’t noticed. And then, after swallowing enough to be sure the soup wasn’t going to splash all over, I started to wonder what else I hadn’t noticed on those same roads I’ve driven hundreds of times.
Immediately, my attention was drawn to all sorts of stuff. Pumpkins on porches. The way the leaves danced around on green grass in the breeze. An older lady reading a book watching the traffic. A painter climbing a ladder that made me nervous. Squirrels.
This kept on going as I slurped my soup. And then I started wondering how much else I had been missing. Of course, focusing on the road should always be the number one priority when behind the wheel. But the idea that one little change in my routine literally opened my eyes was oddly fascinating.
I do some of my best thinking in the car, and this was no exception. How many other times have I trudged through something routine and dismissed the opportunity to really notice what surrounded me? It is easy to get stuck in a pattern, to which our routes to work or errands are particularly subject. I can think of a bunch of other times when muscle memory just kicks in. Stuck in ruts, in other words.
The lesson for me today was to shake things up more often. I am not encouraging others to drink soup in the car. But how about changing the route to work? Or working out before work instead of after? Really, upsetting any current routine could be a way to breathe some life into mundanity, nurture novelty and fuel curiosity.