Imagine this: you walk to work surrounded by cranes in the sky, trucks roaring beside you, cars impatiently waiting at a tense standstill as heavy mobile cement mixers drive against the traffic. Then imagine having to take walking detours as men in hard hats motion you to get out-of-the-way of a huge load of metal rods that are being lowered onto the street. And almost every street has scaffolding obscuring any character of the buildings you pass. There are no scents of flowers or shady trees. There are no sculptures or mini parks. There’s just concrete, trucks and wooden make-shift walls.
“Ugh,” you’re probably thinking, “what a horrible place to be.”
Well, this is my commute, EVERY SINGLE DAY. I walk from 59th St and 10th avenue to my offices on 15th street in in Manhattan. For over 40 blocks I can’t avoid any of this.
And, yet, I love it! I find all this hassle, men in hard hats, grinding sounds of construction and boarded up buildings, well, beautiful. There is an energy to all of this construction. Men and women are hard at work, yelling commands at one another, measuring distances or hustling to manage some sort of construction material. You can really see the imagination and brawn of humankind taking shape. It’s quite magnificent. It literally takes my breath away.
Why am I sharing this experience with you all? Because so many of us live in cruise control. We don’t notice the beauty around us. More importantly, we don’t the notice the beauty that may be hidden to us at first glance. We are constantly on the move trying to achieve the next thing — picking up our kids, getting to work, prepping for our presentation. And let’s be honest, there may not be any flowers to stop and smell along the way. But I guarantee you that there is beauty taking shape in interesting ways all around us, all the time. We just need to tilt our heads in a slightly different angle and truly notice it.
This desire to see the beauty in the seemingly mundane — even ugly — things around us is one of the explanations for the preponderance of banal images that seem to overwhelm our internet feeds. In my research I found that people are attracted to these everyday pics MORE than the the unusual, out-of-this-world stuff because we crave the beauty in the everyday. Such a discovery elevates our everyday and reminds us that our daily lives are full of wonder, not just the grind.
What may seem ugly, drab or boring may just be quite beautiful. We just need to scrape away the layers a bit and truly take the time to think about it. But when you do, you’ll realize how cool our everyday world really are.