Walking through the medina in the morning, I try not to focus on the piles of rubbish, or the construction debris that is ever present. I skirt past the long trail of donkey dung and avert my eyes from the graffiti some misguided youths have sprawled on the lovely walls of this medieval city.
Instead, I must be of two minds. Part of my attention must be on the obstacles I meet along the way. Otherwise, I would never make it to my destination in one piece. Up ahead, a child erratically wheels a baby stroller and a blind man slowly shuffles along with his hand extended. Around the corner a mule laden with crates of Coca Cola and a motorcycle converted into a delivery van have stopped in the same place making it nearly impossible to pass. But with patience, all the passersby are able to squeeze past the oblivious operators of these conveyances and continue on their respective journeys. You must be ever watchful if you want to arrive at your destination without a twisted ankle, torn garment or something attached to your shoe that is better left unmentioned.
The other half of my attention is directed towards anything and everything I can find that is pleasing to my senses and sensibilities … a bird song, the light playing on a particularly interesting door, someone singing in the distance or the shy smile of a child. If I didn’t consciously make myself see and hear and appreciate what is pleasing, I fear I would go mad. It’s a great exercise in positive thinking and for me it’s become necessary for my survival here. I’m okay when I remember to practice gratitude and banish the thoughts from my chattering mind that cause me such grief. It's really such a simple thing to do but so hard to remember to practice. Ah well, such is life.