The Art of Noticing

Man in tree platform


A year ago, I read a blog by this name. It intrigued me. Especially since most of my life, I’ve attempted to live “slow enough” to notice things. To truly notice them--like having an aerial view of my life.

Last week I returned from California after vising my son, daughter-in-law, and two grandkids. This week was my birthday. When you put the two together, it spawns a time of reflection.

What did I notice? The little things, mostly. The awkward dexterity of a one-year-old as she attempts to pick up a Cheerio with her tiny index finger and thumb, then navigate it to her mouth. How she flexes her toes and throws her hands over her head to keep her balance as she waddles a few steps beyond her self-imposed range--before squatting and defaulting to the security of crawling.

I noticed how my three-year-old grandson doesn’t need to be taught how to play with trucks, how to pretend, use his imagination, or how to create endless scenarios with a myriad of toys. I noticed how playground equipment is a magnet to children. And how the temptation of having “fun” overcomes the hesitation of “fear.” How “play” builds confidence. And how the best way to learn what every button is for on a new toy is to, well, push every button—constantly.

I noticed the beauty of California sunsets. The cool breeze off the ocean. And the magnificence of the horizon. Flying home, I noticed the spectacular aerial view from 30,000 feet.

“Unless each day can be looked back upon by an individual as one in which he has had some fun, some joy, some real satisfaction, that day is a loss…” 

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Fall may be the season where I "notice" the most. Not sure why. A few days ago was my birthday, and the scent of fall was in the air. That crisp, clean sensation that, in its own way, makes me feel young again and generates hope and joy. So, I packed a brown bag lunch, drove to Petrifying Springs Park, set up a lawn chair in a serene spot, and focused on what was before me. Tree leaves starting to turn brilliant hues of orange, red, and yellow. Leaves falling and riding the wind to the ground. The warmth of the sun. The deep blue sky. A gentle breeze. Cloud formations morphing into art forms.

Fall is the season that most reminds me of days gone by. The fall scent transported me to another time and place: elementary school where I always noticed the smell of a new eraser, freshly sharpened wooden pencils, Elmer’s glue, rubber cement, mimeographed paper used for exams, the assorted colors of construction paper, and hearing the distinctive snap of a new three-ring binder.

They say the sense of smell, more than the other senses, triggers memories. For me, fall also takes me back to my college days, the anticipation of new classes, meeting new students, the smell of ink and paper in the bookstore, and preparing for my future. Today, oh-so-many years later, as I sit in this lawn chair, I recall both the minor details of my life—and the most meaningful moments. Why can I recall them as though they occurred yesterday? Well, it's not because I have a good memory, instead it might be because in those fleeting everyday moments—I “noticed” them.

This birthday, I realized once again, that life is so much richer—when we notice it. When we let it sink in—and shape us.

After all, when these moments settle in—and reside deep within us—isn’t that evidence of The Art of Noticing?


SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  Ever miss a meaningful moment in your life despite “being there” to witness it? What are some ways you can “notice” precious moments in your life in the future?
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