Step Back and Observe

(I once found a list online of a 100 ways to relieve stress, and I used each one as a prompt for writing. This prompt was the tip: step back and observe)

I like this tip a lot. It’s easy to get caught up in your own mind, and not bother or take the time to be still and observe the outside world. Doing something as simple as looking at the sky every now and then is enough to calm you down at times, or at least put things in perspective, and make you realize that your problems are so small and insignificant in comparison to the universe as a whole. And no matter what we think is important in our lives, it pales in comparison and the world will just keep going regardless. So we can either choose to go with the flow and greatly increase our ease in this journey through
life, or choose to fight against it every step of the way.

I’ve always wanted to be able to go someplace, like a coffee shop or something, and simply observe people on the street. I’ve always felt too self-conscious to do so though, thinking that everyone would know what I was doing and would be observing me instead. It’s a weird thing. in cities like new york especially, people are for the most part in their own little worlds and oblivious to whatever or whoever is around them. So people watching should be a simple thing to do.

I remember going to the Siren Festival at Coney Island with an old friend once. We sat at a table after having some food and started people watching. She would talk about people’s clothes, or tattoos or something else about their appearance. And she made the comment that she could be there, doing that all day. She asked me if I was bored after a while. It was weird because I wasn’t used to watching people that way and it was actually interesting. I realized how seldom I stop to observe people around me, I think I’m more of an eavesdropper.

I love to listen to other people’s conversations. I think its interesting to hear the way that people communicate with each other. I guess it has to do with being more interested in people’s thoughts and ideas than in the way that they behave. Stepping back to observe is something that writer’s and artists can’t help but do. They experience the world in a way that is different from most people and it’s just in their nature.

It’s unavoidable. They experience things a second and a third time when they start a new painting, or poem, or story. They pay extra attention and feel things more deeply and are more affected by everything. Maybe that’s why things like a simple work day and work people tend to overwhelm me, when other people simply know how to manage it without letting it get to them. That’s a difficult thing to do if you’re hard-wired to feel and experience life so deeply, without any control over it.

Stepping back to observe takes you temporarily outside of yourself and your mind and your problems, and that can be a great relief. Like when you step back and observe your thoughts during meditation. It’s a break for your mind and a rest. Being still forces you to take note of what your thoughts are actually doing. It takes you back clearly into the present moment, instead of lost somewhere in your mind with your constantly whirling thoughts.


December 30, 2012. Tags: , , , . writing.

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