There is no escaping the heat lately. Whether you’re inside with an air conditioner or a fan blowing, or you’re outside sipping on an iced tea in the shade, the heat will find you.
Which is the situation I found myself in just the other day, walking home from a local store.
As I walked my mind was flooded with thoughts of how unbearably hot the day was. I had spent a good couple of hours walking around downtown when I suddenly turned my gaze slightly above the horizon and realized there were quite a few gigantic clouds looming just over the Utah mountains in the distance.
Here I was, concerning myself with the overwhelming heat of the day, and I had failed to notice humongous, white painted clouds at the edge of the blue, ocean-like sky above me. It was all I needed to forget about how miserable the heat felt and shift my mood into a positive one.
The sky is obviously a hard thing to miss if you’re outside. Even if you’re inside right now and you glance out of a window, odds are that you’ll see some sky, at least a little. Yet, for how huge the sky is – and how stunningly inspirational it can look and feel – we sometimes overlook it, concerning ourselves only with the things that are right in front of us. It’s a big missed opportunity to feel better about the day.
When I finally noticed the bold sky that day, I began to wonder what other things I had missed while walking around. Murals of graffiti on the sidewalk? An old friend walking on the other side of the street who I could have caught up with? Suddenly everything began to pop into view around me. Even the slightest cracks in the pavement, the way a shrub sprouted from the Earth and climbed up an white-bricked apartment wall, all began to appear vividly in my sight. Strangers passing by became more than silhouettes on the outskirts of my vision. I felt aware of everything around me!
It’s not that these things hadn’t existed before, it’s simply that my attention was focused solely on the heat and my actions – walking to and from different locations.
How many things do you imagine you’re overlooking every day? An important email from someone you’ve been trying to get in touch with, or a perfectly designed logo – the type you’ve been hoping to find for inspiration – on a restaurant you frequent, or a perfect ray of light glazing the edge of the room you’re taking photos in, perhaps?
It’s not that these things are necessarily big in a physical sense, but they’re big in the way they could impact how we think and create.
Tina Seelig, author and director of Stanford Technology Ventures Program, explains in her brief interview with Fast Company just how important it is to start noticing these big – yet seemingly inconsequential – things around us:
“When you realize that we’re influenced by so many things that we don’t even pay attention to, then you can start seeing the opportunities in your midst. If you don’t pay attention, not only do you not realize what’s affecting you, but you also don’t see the problems that can be turned into opportunities.”
Inspiration is everywhere, and there’s so much of it around us that the possibilities in nearly any environment is almost unimaginable.
Make a list of a few “big” things you want to notice over the next few days – the color of a sunset, how a popular company presents their logo in emails, what catchphrase a personal hero inadvertently says.
Take the time to start noticing a few of the things around you that could be big and inspire your creativity. These things are there, and while they may be big or small, they matter.
Photo by Karin Dalziel.