What do you remember about your journey to work today?

Street Art East LondonDo you go about your day-to-day routines on autopilot? Do you ever arrive somewhere not quite sure how you got there? What can you remember about your journey to work today? Who sat next to you on the train? Did you smile at anyone? Did anyone smile at you? What traffic lights did you stop at? Who served you your morning coffee?

Most of us wont recall, because we didn’t ever notice. Perhaps we consciously block out all the messages that we are bombarded with. Perhaps we purposefully immerse ourselves in our smartphones, our music, our kindle or even old-fashioned books.

Perhaps blocking out our routine surroundings makes us more efficient. Perhaps it helps us be more focused.

The thing is, when we take our surroundings for granted, we can miss out on inspiration, learning and insight that is right under our nose.

I live and work in London and a few weeks ago I went on a street art tour around East London, an area where I spend quite a lot of time. It felt a bit strange being a tourist in my own town as I was guided along streets that I have walked along countless times. The difference was that this time I noticed stuff.

There is a vibrant street art scene in East London. Our guide pointed out the work of many of different artists, who have travelled from around the world to add their mark to the area. Much of the street art that we saw was new in the last few weeks. However it was the stories of the artists, their art and the world that they operate in that bought the tour to life for me.

One piece of art was commissioned by The Flavasum Trust in memory of 22 year old Tom Easton. Tom was stabbed to death in 2006. Originally spelt change ‘CHANGE’ it now reads ‘worth more’ and was painted by the artist Ben Eine. As well as a memorial it is also an appeal to young people to stop carrying knives. I’ve walked past it many times. I’ve never noticed it before.

Worth more by Ben Eine in memory of Tom Easton

The tour made me realise just how much I don’t notice in my day-to-day familiar surroundings as I rush from one meeting to another so absorbed in my own world that I forget to look at inspiration and stories that are staring me in the face.

Since I did the tour I have slowed down and deliberately noticed more, photographed more, observed more and been inspired more.

Take time to be a tourist in your own town. I bet you will surprise yourself with what you will see and learn.

This blog is courtesy of the 40 to 40 list and bought to you by the number 40.

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