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?