Stop and take a proper look around you

I’m at the same old table in the same old coffee shop.

The air conditioning unit whooshes its low note. From downstairs there’s the urgent frothing sound of milk being steam-heated.

The usual music, a kind of gentle Irish instrumental track at the moment, is piping from the speaker in the corner.


Through the window I can see the sun shining, casting shadows of the plane trees’ leaves on the shop fronts across the road.

Their windows carry the reflections of pedestrians, some rushing to get somewhere, others idling as though they have all day. Perhaps they do.

Pigeons glide by outside. Now, they do have all day.

A young guy just came in, laptop in hand, hunting around the skirting boards.

I’ve seen this behaviour before, so I told him where the place’s one power point is hidden (behind the brown leather sofa in the corner).

He thanked me.

It was warm when I came in, but the air-con is now making it comfortably cool.

From where I sit, I can count no fewer than 23 ceiling lights. That’s a lot.

Only one isn’t working. That’s not bad.

I’m here nearly every morning, yet how often have I noticed (properly noticed) my surroundings? How often have I taken a proper, thorough look around me?

Almost never.

When you’re struggling through a bad patch it’s normal to think that your world is full of nothing, as hollow as a foolish man’s promise.

But of course it’s not.

The richness that’s clear to see on a sunny day is still there on an overcast one. If you look for it.

So as you progress through the day, keep your eyes open.

When you feel good, you automatically take more notice of things.

But it works the other way too.

Taking proper notice of things can, itself, perk you up.

8 thoughts on “Stop and take a proper look around you

  1. I too, on reading this, was thinking just how beautifully descriptive it is… I was almost there, in that cafe, Jon!
    And I do agree with you, and am only just starting to put into practice noticing things more keenly. You are a great help, Jon. Thanks again for pointing out so eloquently what should be, but often isn’t , obvious. 🙂

  2. Not really a comment on this post, but I wanted to say a huge thank you Jon for all your emails. I get consumed by the busyness of my job all too often – your emails, usually read whilst taking lunch at my desk, act as a prompt to stop what I’m doing and reminds me that I’m a human, not a machine. I really do appreciate them!

  3. I’m glad you noticed the plane trees, Jon. They keep me grounded and I am reminded not to run up escalators, however late I am…although it’s sometimes hard to resist the temptation. Wishing you every success with your publication. Go well.

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