Why You Should Forget Your Sunglasses

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. My new job, besides being fabulous, allows me the opportunity to experience something I’ve never been able to enjoy before – a window office all to myself! Today, I decided to take advantage of this gorgeous weather and walk around my little section of DC to enjoy a few moments of sunshine away from my desk. The moment I stepped outside though, I’d realized I’d forgotten my sunglasses. Ugh.

This is one of the many reasons I don’t invest in couture eyewear. A $5 pair here, a $2 pair there – all appropriately coordinated with my outfit, of course, but affordable enough so that when I lose them, I don’t have an immediate panic attack. And it would seem, after a recent business trip to New York City, I’ve simultaneously misplaced exactly four pairs.

What to do? Do I tough it out, or let this little beady-eyed sidewalk vendor talk me into paying $15 for that warped pair lying on his folding table? I decided to keep strolling and tried not to make eye contact – something that would be much easier to do, had I remembered where I put those dang aviators.

As I walked past the boutiques, coffee shops, and late-afternoon lunch-goers, I started noticing something. People were smiling at me. Little nods here and there, an occasional greeting. As a born-and-bred Jersey girl, and now a DC commuter, I have a pretty accurate “creep” radar. But that wasn’t the case here. People were looking into my eyes with warmth and positivity. I couldn’t remember the last time a complete stranger made eye contact and acknowledged me with genuine friendliness. But I guess that’s harder to do with a $5 – or $500 – shield across your face.

How many times have you walked down the street oblivious to your surroundings? How many times have you just walked down the street? I’ve done it; we all have. You’re practically sprinting between the “sidewalk shufflers”, head down, ear buds a-‘blazin’, cell phone in hand, and sunglasses perched on the bridge of your nose. You see nothing else except the numbers ticking down on the crosswalk signal.

The further I walked, the more enjoyment I got out of appreciating my surroundings. I could actually see beyond the afternoon traffic, from the tops of trees to the flowers growing between the cracks in the sidewalk. My senses were vibrant and awake. I actually felt fulfilled. I smiled, a lot. Some people rushed past me and probably thought I was crazy; some smiled back. One man looked confused when I grinned in his direction, but he smiled too.

The sun is our life force. It’s what keeps plants, animals, humans, and Mother Earth functioning as they should. It’s a constant reminder that every day is a new day. It gives us light, warmth, and physical and spiritual guidance. In many cultures it is even worshipped. It asks nothing from us, and yet we only take the time, really take the time, to appreciate its beautiful palette at sunrise or sunset. But it’s time now to move over and let the sun take center stage. Let it be the catalyst of your senses; let it light up your surroundings.

That was the first time I walked around downtown DC naked-faced, but it won’t be the last.

So the next time you step out into the daylight, breathe deeply and let the sunshine in. And don’t forget to forget your sunglasses.

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