I ride bikes a bit, walk a bit, run a bit. And because I’m essentially a creature of habit, those attempts to fight off the middle-aged spread often see me following the same path week-in and week-out.
One of the mountain bike trails I ride I have now been down 242 times. On another the count is 172. That’s a lot of trips over the same bit of ground, past the same scenery. I almost feel like I know every tree, every branch, every rock.
For all that I reckon I know those trails inside out (what’s the phrase…I know them so well i could ride them blindfolded? I don’t think I’ll give that a whirl!) I also think that same familiarity means that I’ve stopped noticing. There’s the possibility that when I ride the same path often enough, I stop seeing my surrounds.
It might be the same where you walk, or along the roads you drive every single day. We can become immune to our surroundings, disconnected from them, oblivious to them.
Naturally if something big changes, we notice. If you sneak in and add a new jump to my favourite trail, I’ll notice it (right before I crash!), and if a new house goes up overnight on my afternoon walking route, I’ll likely notice that too. Yesterday I found a new roundabout on a road I’ve driven hundreds of times before…but not travelled for a while. I noticed it.
But that’s not usually how change happens is it. Change often happens slowly. Incrementally. Millimetre by millimetre. The trail slowly widens to make a corner easier, the dirt wears away revealing a little more rock each time to make it a little rougher, the soft-fall in the playground is scattered one bark-chip at a time until it’s not quite as safe anymore.
These things happen in plain sight. And unless we’re specifically looking for them, they’re not easy to spot. Unless we occasionally ride the trail intent on noticing what’s new…maybe we’ll never be aware.
I reckon life can be a little like that too. The way I treat my family members can change little by little, almost imperceptible, until I’ve done damage to the relationship. My work ethic can slip a fraction here, and a fraction there, until I’m not quite delivering. My spiritual life might slide – I skip some prayer time here and there and all of a sudden it’s a week, or a month, or a year since I prayed.
There’s a few things that I think have maybe happened this way in my own life. Maybe I need to take a ride down the trail intentionally looking to see where change has (unintentionally) occurred.
What about you?