I was sitting on the train on my way to Uni the other morning when a group of people sat in front of me. Two little girls – around six-years-old and more than likely twins – spending the day out with their grandparents. They had turned one of the sets of three seats to face the other set so they could be sitting opposite one another. This of course meant that I was awkwardly looking directly at the Grandfather and one of the twins. I smiled at the little girl and she grinned back. The Grandfather looked in my direction, but he didn’t return the smile I gave him – which made me wonder whether he was actually just looking out the window beside me or if I appeared to be a threatening stranger. (Look, to be perfectly honest, the latter wouldn’t even surprise me – I have a high success rate with making children cry/frown/look confused/run away).
I untangled my earphones and listened to music as I looked out the window, watching the same scenery go by as I do four times a week. An almost two-hour commute to Uni and the same back home makes it long and boring. The same walls and back streets plastered with graffiti. The same tradies sitting on the construction site having smoko – regardless of whether it is my 9:30am commute to Uni or my trip home later on in the afternoon. The same demolition site with a single brick wall remaining spray painted with the warning ‘Don’t Demo. Live Power’. The same people doing their exercises at Parramatta Park or swimming lap after lap at the public pool near Blacktown. The same flock of people rushing to get on the train at Strathfield Station. The same ‘Jesus is the Answer. Read your Bible’ sign plastered on the side of a worn-down building. Nothing is ever that different. It’s never exciting. It’s routine.
As I gazed out the window, I watched the world go by without really paying much attention to it. My mind was elsewhere. By ‘elsewhere’, I mean thinking about the ten-minute class presentation I had to do in less than an hour. Splendid. My train of thought (pardon the pun) was quickly interrupted by the two giggling girls sitting in front of me. The pair – much to their grandparent’s dismay – had their noses pressed up against the glass window of the train providing running commentary on what they could see outside.
“Look at the swimming pool Myla! It’s so big and blue!”
“Wow! It would be so cold swimming today though. Nanny, how are those people swimming? It’s so cold! And look at the puppy there in the park!”
“Aww! It’s so fluffy and look at its curly tail. It looks so happy!”
This went on for the rest of the train ride. And for someone who would pick a quiet carriage over a carriage full of kids any day, this back-and-forth chatter didn’t bother me at all. Somehow, it was quite the opposite. These twins saw everything around them in such an amazing way. The lens of sheer awe and wonderment that they happened to see the world through completely perplexed me – in a way that brought a surprising smile to my face. The environment that I deemed to be dull and the routine that I was adamant was tedious, they somehow managed to see from a completely different angle. Perspective. Got to love it, right?
They noticed the little things and more importantly, they appreciated them too. A completely different perspective to me. The young man that was running frantically to catch the train, they believed was excited to go to work. The woman walking down the street had pretty flowers on her dress that almost matched the ones in the garden next to her. The grey, overcast sky seemingly holding back some drops that would more than likely fall as I walked from the station to class, was in fact featuring a bunny-shaped cloud. Every little thing they saw outside was amazing. And the best part, they were looking out the same window as me.
It made me wonder that while we may see things one way, others can have a completely different outlook. I realised that while I may have grown up and matured, I lost that excitement for life that inherently comes with being a young child. Although I have more responsibilities now than merely checking my pigeon hole every afternoon at school for mail to give my parents, I was becoming disengaged and unobservant to the beauty that constantly surrounds me. It’s there, you just have to look out the window with a different lens. Rather than realigning my attitude and perspective to create my own realities each day, I was focusing on the mundane tasks that I had to do. Each day was a routine, a chore, a collective ‘sigh’. I was blatantly missing the little things around me that would bring me happiness. Perhaps we all need to grow up, but not too much – after all, we shouldn’t completely let go of that child-like wonderment we once had.
Those twins taught me something important that morning. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. More than often, it’s not. But when you’re six-years-old and you haven’t a care in the world, you don’t see much else than rainbows and butterflies. So here you go friends: if you’re looking out your window right now and you can’t see things getting better or you feel like you have hit a dead end and life is just one big routine, then readjust your focus – readjust your lens. It won’t change what you’re seeing. It won’t change the situation. But I can assure you that it will change the way you look at it.
Before I knew it, the train pulled into Central station and I gathered my things. For the first time in three years of catching the train, I didn’t actually want to get off. The girls watched me as I stood up and as we made eye contact, I smiled at the two of them. Little did they know that within that smile was a small thank you. A thank you for letting me, for even just a brief moment, see the world through the eyes of two beautiful, care-free six-year-olds. A thank you for not only allowing me to recognise the beauty that lies everywhere around us, but also appreciate it. A thank you for gratitude in the most innocent of its forms. A thank you for reminding me that maybe, just maybe, routine doesn’t have to be all that bad – we just have to change the way we see things.
Keep smiling. x