Perspective and Connection

As part of a “let’s do a fun thing every day of the Easter weekend”, my partner and I decided to do a walk on Easter Monday. The process started with getting our walking poles ready and me packing my backpack with books, shoes and other weighty items, about 9 kgs worth, for me to carry as part of my training for walking on the Camino de Santiago in Spain later in the year.

The walk turned out to be long, around 5 hours and interesting, covering varied outer terrain of parks and suburbs and inner terrain of thoughts, feelings and sensations. I found two aspects of the walk particularly fascinating; firstly, the opportunity being on foot presented for being a stranger in my own “back yard”, being able to see and experience “my world” through very different eyes. Probably, my strongest felt sense of this difference was our lunch stop in 4th Ave, Linden, which involved us sitting on the side of the road on a ledge outside a shop, and which lunch consisted of a coke and a pie for my partner and a coke and a cheese roll with chips for me because the only money we had was R50 I had in my pocket.

And sitting there, I got a very different view, by virtue of looking at the world from another vantage point. It was interesting to notice things that that were different from what I’d normally notice – a tattoo on a leg, a tattoo on an arm, and curiously watching the tattooed couple with two small dogs walking past with a DVD and returning with a large packet of Omo washing powder, which seemed like an interesting thing to be buying at 15h00 on a public holiday afternoon. Also, hearing a snippet of a conversation between two domestic workers, one a Zimbabwean, about what her work entailed and how she felt about it.

What struck me later when back “on the road”, was that it was not only about me observing the world from a different perspective, but also about being observed by others and I wondered about how my position as the observer in that particular setting might have led to my being observed in a different way – from a place of curiosity with questions of: “why are you sitting there eating chips and drinking coke, what’s with the backpack with the South African flag, what are the sticks for?” What was very noticeable to me at a feeling level, was a complete lack of judgment from the observers, despite the fact that with my sticks and backpack, I was somewhat out of their frame of reference.

The other aspect of the walk which I found so fascinating was the sense of connection I felt to people I passed along the way. I experienced a warm and gentle interconnectedness with others who were walking and it struck my partner and I how much more open we felt and how able we were to connect with others by virtue of being on foot. From behind the “safety” and detachment of our closed car windows, how can we really see or connect with the human being standing outside? On the street, you’re walking close to someone, literally crossing paths, making eye contact and you are part of the community of pedestrians, a community which just “is” and pays no mind to race or rank. And, within this community, there is a sense of acceptance and belonging and an absence of judgment.

So, what I take from my walk is how a different perspective can open new possibilities for interacting with our “old” world as well as quietly enable broader and deeper connection.

And I leave with you, the following questions to ponder upon…..

  • What did I look at from a different perspective today?
  • What enabled me to step into that (different) perspective? / What did I let go of that enabled me to step into this perspective?
  • What impact did acting from this perspective have on me and my connection with others?
  • How did someone see me differently today?
  • What about me made that possible?
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