The Art of Noticing


We have written often about being present and aware on this blog.  We all know the importance of being physically, emotionally and mentally “there” whether it be with your family, work or friends.  The catch is that it’s not always easy.  We have so many distractions; so many things constantly vying for our attention. It used to just be the phone on the wall that might ring while you were having a conversation with your family.  Now, everyone in the room has a phone and maybe a laptop and we are constantly being barraged with notifications, text messages, emails and occasionally even a phone call. It’s difficult to remain present when every 30 seconds someone is getting notified that someone else wants their attention.


This week, I began walking our puppy for short distances. If you have ever walked a puppy, it can sometimes feel like you are trying to walk a fish or some other non-land walking animal.  It can feel darn near impossible.  I was singularly focused on walking the dog.  I was totally present and “there” but it didn’t feel like he was.


Then I started noticing what was really happening.  I had an agenda, which was to walk the dog the required distance, while he was just tuned into his surroundings. Those expectations and agendas get us every time! Once I became attuned to my environment, I, too, became engaged. Huey wasn’t distracted.  He was merely taking in the new sights and sounds.


I have walked my neighborhood thousands of times. I talk, walk, check my watch and notice things like the heat, the chill, the wind and the dog barking ferociously as I walk by.  While walking Huey I noticed some other things.  I noticed wind chimes that I have never heard before, a Cubs flag blowing in the wind,  new neighbors, where the water drains naturally by the sidewalk, where the sun never shines, how many kids are at the bus stop now, who walks their kids to the bus and how loud the bus actually is.  All of these things, plus some rocks and mulch, were noticed by Huey.  In fact, he was mesmerized by the wind chimes, the flag and the bus.  I imagine these are all things he has never encountered before this week and, obviously, I had never even bothered to notice.

It got me thinking about what else I might not notice because I am not so present to what is happening.  This week, I am intentionally quieting my mind to see what else I haven’t noticed.  For example, as I sit here typing I am looking at a painting that has hung on our bedroom wall for years.  It’s a painting of a street in Venice with apartments on either side of an archway. When I look at it closely, I can almost imagine myself walking that cobblestone street. I bought this painting years ago because of what I imagined it to be and the hopes of being there some day.  This painting “sparks joy” as Marie Kondo would say.  It’s staying on my wall and I am going to pay attention to it everyday now.


I can also see a layer a of dust on the plant ledge that I can’t reach and I never look at. Now I desperately want to get the ladder and wash the plant ledge down.

Perhaps not all things are worth noticing.

This week, take a look around your own home and yard.  What do you notice that you’ve never seen before or haven’t really looked at in awhile?


Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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