Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I wasn't expecting that...

Last year I told you how I'd started a gratitude jar
I also confessed to being rubbish at following or creating daily routines. 
The plan idea vain hope was that this positive activity of routinely recording something for which I was thankful, or perhaps, more likely, the nightly moment of guilt at not yet having completed the task, would turn things around. My gratitude jar would inspire a new positive habit.

Not even close.

By May, it was accumulating little more than dust. 
Round-about July, I tipped out the bits of paper and filled the vase with flowers: the instant gratification of the flowers preferable to the long-term benefits of repetition.

I suck at routine. I suck even harder at change.

But I knew when my life was relocated to the other side of the planet, I was going to have to embrace change. In lots of ways. And in lots of things.
And in me. 
So I decided it would be wise to start with a small change in my behaviour. 
Well, to be honest, it's not that small. Not for me.
But it's not huge...

Anyway, size isn't the issue here. What I decided was that I would make a conscious and quite deliberate effort to make more eye-contact with people. Anyone. 
And I pledged to myself that I would smile more, even when on a crowded London street, or in a train lined with phone-focussed commuters.

The consequences have, so far, been both gratifying and perplexing in equal measure. 

Certainly, it requires some thoughtful lip and cheek muscle action on my part to generate a perfectly casual, genuine-looking lips-together smile and avoid looking loopy... or creepy. I don't think I've actually frightened anyone. So far.
However, I have found that the smile-to-smile-response ratio doesn't seem to be consistent. Whilst there is, undeniably, a higher rate of return from women, a great many still insist on pretending I am invisible. And on some days, so many people barrel straight into me, or shove in front of me, or remain propped rock-like in my path that I begin to believe I am invisible. 

But that's not what I wasn't expecting. What has really taken me by surprise is how often, now, with my routinely eye-level gaze, I catch sight of someone amidst the hoi-polloi who looks familiar, a face that matches another, a sparkling champagne bead image that pirouettes to the surface of my memory. 

Now, I understand about doppelgängers. Apparently, the chance of having a living one is 1:135. More if you add animals to the mix. No, that's not what I have found befuddling.

The thing I wasn't expecting is that nine times out of ten, after the image has registered and I've done the mental double-take, after I've marvelled at the glistening pearl of memory bobbing at the very top of my mind... it pops in my face.

The bubble bursts as I realise that I have just matched that random-whoever-on-the-street with a specific-someone from my experience... just exactly the way they used to look. Decades ago. When we were at school, or uni or in a hot smoky pub dancing to a live band. In the '80s.
Long ago and far away.

What do you think? Is this a cause for concern...this seeing people as they were? Is it an inevitable product of aging, or a trait uniquely and weirdly my own?
And should I persist with my puckery old-lady lips-together smile and continue trying not to look loopy...or creepy? 
Or would I be better off just working on that invisibility thing?


  1. I think gratitude jars/journals etc are a great idea in theory but hard to keep up in practice. Starting any new habit takes time. I started in the new year with a plan to use night cream every night and even though it sits beside my toothbrush it doesn't get used every night. Keep smiling. You might not get as much response as you would like but at least you can feel better about yourself.

    1. It's so comforting to know I'm not alone in the not-quite-routine stakes. I do make conscious notes of good things every day, but I fail in the writing them down. and you're right, the smiling does has a positive impact on me in general.

    2. I'm dithering on the A-Z - I have some posts prepared but the new format of having to comment on the A-z site every day might be tricky - I'll be cruising around the UK for the first week of the challenge and not sure what the internet access will be like

    3. I have to confess that the new system seems a bit awkward to me, too. And I still have no idea what I would write about. So I haven't committed yet either.

  2. I think you should carry on smiling at people! If they smile back it is a bonus, if not then they are probably smiling inside thinking you are probably some harmless eccentric! :-)

    1. Yep... the weirdo on the street. That's me.