I was struggling with some projects earlier this year. It’s hard to say earlier this Spring since that season appears to have forsaken us. But in any event, I was finding myself entering that tunnel vision that will occasionally visit me when I am thinking about a project. After awhile, you feel as though you are Ouroboros, the serpent eating its tail. When I get to this point, I generally need to break out and find a bit of perspective. This can happen in a number of ways but the easiest way is to break a habit.
Anyone who has worked with me will have observed that on a surprisingly regular basis I will shift my office furniture around. Not a complete White House redecoration, just a tweak here and there for a bit of change. Perhaps I look out the window rather than the door. One office I had in Dallas felt almost as though it had rotated in a full circle as I slowly evolved the layout.
This interest in change occurred as what should have been spring finally sprung. The riverbanks along the Holland River were coming alive and I decided that my commute would take advantage of that. I walk to the train and back each day and there is one relatively direct path. A change in direction means I would take the path less traveled and yet it has meant all the difference. I know. Sue me.
I saw my first musk rat, which explained why some many trees along the river look like they were hewn down by beaver. The mallard ducks and their ducklings have come and are now going. A yellow warbler – another first – popped out of some honeysuckle and stared at me. All in all it’s a very diverting change.
What I find is that the distractions of this new path cause me to think about a wider variety of things, because I am not yet dulled to the sameness of the route. In truth, there was some change on the more urban (walking along a sidewalk by a heavily travelled road) route but now I’m walking along a very lightly travelled footpath beside a river. There will be shade in summer and more interesting changes among the foliage as autumn comes. I’ll have to give it up in winter – no plowing and it’s rough work to go through in foot deep snow. But until then, I’ll enjoy the mental break it gives me each evening.