Look Left (A Mindfulness Moment)

I pull in, a grey haze draped over the view through each of my car’s windows, like someone applied a faded overlay on the morning. I park in my usual spot and cut the song off in the middle as I turn the keys. I’m one of the first again; the parking lot is almost empty.

It’s business as usual, here, facing directly the building I greet each morning. It’s an old building, a mix between 60’s color and texture fads and classic architecture, and well kept even if out of date. It’s not altogether ominous, just ordinary.

I slip the keys into my bag and grab my coat (I don’t know why I bring it; I rarely give myself time to actually put it on). Then I unlock the door, open it, and immediately lock it again (another time shortcut).

Stepping out into that overlay, I am immediately enveloped by a magic born of nostalgic aroma. It was a portal into another dimension. Framed in wintertime, childhood memories of checking the paper for the air quality and then, if it was a “green” day, building and lighting and sitting by the fire (a real one, none of this gas-flames-in-a-box nonsense).

Where is this magic coming from? I cannot tell.

I look right: nothing but cars and buildings and business. I look forward: just my old friend, the middle-aged building. I look left: there it is.

Someone with forethought took the time to leave a little space amongst the commercial for a garden thick enough for mysticism, a forest tall enough for fantasy, with trees and shrubs filling the space between me and something mysterious. I breathe it in. The cold doesn’t bother me, despite my not having my coat on. For now, all I want is to continue looking left, standing at the edge of that portal to “then.”

Several crows sit perched in one of the taller pine trees, communicating fiercely with two others who are darting back and forth from tree to tree. Messengers, no doubt.

I wonder if I will see my friend the fox; he sometimes gets caught out and about in the early morning, having taken too long to secure his day’s meal. Today is apparently not such a day. Good on him.

Instead, two squirrels are running around on the ground, gathering winter’s feast and hiding it here and there.

And all the while, the smell of a childhood fire sifts through the realm and seeps out into my normal.

Though I want to stay and watch (in fact, I want to step through and explore), it is time to go in. Besides that, my hands are starting to go numb.

In any case, I am glad for at least the threshold. Glad I am able to stand at the door — even for just a moment — and feel the warmth trickling out through the gateway to me. I take one last deep breath to lock that aroma in for the rest of the day.

Then I look straight again. “Hello, old friend. Let’s get to work, shall we?”

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