“Don’t forget to look out!”
I’m a little better about it now, but when I first started climbing outdoors, I was notorious for climbing to the top of a route, getting lowered down, and then proceed to hear every person that climbed after me rave about the spectacular view they had when they turned around and looked at the world around them. I would tell myself as I was tying in and putting my shoes on, “Make sure you look out this time,” and invariably, it would not come to my mind again until I was back on the ground untying my knot and taking my shoes off again. I can’t begin to tell you how many times my husband has yelled, “Don’t forget to look!” during my climb. (Thankfully, he is both sensitive and smart enough not to do his yelling during a crux sequence and waits until I appear to be in a fairly restful stance!)
It’s not that I’m afraid to take my eyes off the rock and look out. As soon as my belayer yells up to me, I immediately turn and get an indescribable rush of beauty and wonder. It’s just that I get so caught up with what I’m doing, that I forget to look around and see what else is going on around me.
I feel like that’s how life is sometimes. We get so inundated at work or so involved in a project of some sort, that we forget to stop and see what else is going on – to “stop and smell the roses,” as the old cliché goes.
The times that I forget to look out and just come right down – does that mean my whole day is ruined, that my climbing experience is somehow tainted? No, of course not. I move on to the next route and continue to have a fun day. But can I ever get back that split second moment of child-like awe that I would have had if I would have remembered to turn around and look at the 360 degree panorama of the Blue Ridge mountains in full fall color?
It’s the same with life – we can easily go through it focused on what is right in front of us, never turning around to see what’s going on behind us or out of the corner of our eye, but if that’s all we ever do, we will be missing out. Maybe not missing out on some gigantic life changing event (although sometimes that may very well be the case), but missing out on the sweet smell of honeysuckle five feet off the path, hearing the funny lesson your friend learned the other day over coffee, or watching your toddler gaze in wide-eyed wonder at a passing airplane. So the next time you think of it, stop and look out. You just never know what you’re missing if you don’t!