Part of being a writer is being able to see things through someone else’s eyes. Viewpoint is important, and that doesn’t matter whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.
On Saturday, while doing my daily walk, I bumped into a man in his eighties, who I often see out and about, no matter what the weather. Even when it’s pouring with rain he always declares what a wonderful day it is. As a blind man, he gets about with the aid of a white stick.
I bumped into him (not literally, he’s adept at using his stick) along the bridleway that gently slopes down to a National Trust cafe in the valley. For me, it’s a gradual slope, which only requires caution during snow and ice.
Not for my friend, though. He pointed out to me that we had stopped to chat just after drainage channel number 16. His white stick drops down into all 21 channels that cross this section of the path. Now, ask me if there are any drainage channels and I’d have said there were about three or four. But not 21. I counted them yesterday and he’s right. There are 21. I’ve just been blind to the other 17 or so.
It takes him ten steps to get from the concrete bridge to the flatter section of grass that avoids the ridge where the sheep like to lean against. And that concrete bridge was fourteen steps from the pot hole in the road … or it was, until someone decided to fill in the pot hole. My friend has had to recalibrate his walk since the road has been ‘improved’.
After chatting about the different birds we’d heard this morning, and how quiet it was compared to last weekend, when it was still the school half-term holidays, we parted company and continued on our own walks.
I found myself counting the rest of the way home. And looking for potholes. I was now looking at a route I’ve done regularly for several years in a completely new way. I was now looking at it through the eyes of a blind man.
So the next time you find yourself doing something complete routine, try looking at it through someone else’s eyes. You may find it inspirational, and you never know what you might see.