In the book Einstein’s Dream by Alan Lightman, the author muses on the nature of time, and imagines various worlds where the rules, as we know them, have changed.
In one such world, people awake each day to a blank slate. They have no memory of all the days that have preceded them, so they must consult notebooks to uncover the details of their lives.
Each morning they look into the notebooks to determine where they work. They go to jobs that are new and full of promise. When the workday ends, they check the notebook again to see if there are errands to be run, and to be reminded of where they live.
Upon arriving home, they are greeted by a spouse they have never seen before and children they have never met. With curiosity, they reacquaint themselves with each other and, over a candlelit family dinner, tell stories about the day’s events.
Once the children are put to bed, husband and wife talk, not about balancing the checkbook, but about the stars in the night sky. They learn about each other’s dreams. As they talk, they look into each other’s eyes. Each night they fall in love all over again.
If their lives sound full and rich, it’s because they are. In Lightman’s words. “it is only habit and memory that dull the passion for life.” And without habit and memory, they live each day as if it were their first.
It’s a story that is cause to reflect on our own lives. When we go through life as if we have seen and done and heard it all before, we stop listening and learning. We begin tuning out the small details of life that once surprised and delighted us.
What might happen if we started each day with a fresh slate?
What if we were able to look at each day as a chance to see and learn and enjoy new experiences?
We would talk to friends, neighbors and family members, and find that when we listened with our hearts and minds open, they could tell us things that interest us and touch us in ways we had forgotten were possible.
We would find that our world, and the people and moments in it, are more fascinating than we ever imagined. All because we stopped to notice life as if for the first time.