So much of life is about noticing. We go through life not paying attention to much of anything. We numb ourselves with busyness, so we don’t have to think what’s happening around us – or, God Forbid, within us. If we did pay attention we’d find a lot happening around us that’s worthy of our notice.
For example, when I say “Sean Penn has been working in Haiti since the earthquake,” you think – “oh, yeah, that’s right.” It’s something we’ve all heard here or there along the way, and we thought, “that’s cool,” and we moved on. Into our busyness. We didn’t process that. We didn’t think about that. We didn’t contemplate that.
Why is he there? What motivated him? What happened that caused him to go be there, as opposed to just sending money? Why? How did that come to pass? How is it working? What spoke to him about that?
I confess I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m sure there is something profound in one or more of them. And no doubt something any one of us can use in our own lives.
But, we forgot to notice, to pay attention, to contemplate. We added the fact that Sean Penn is devoted to Haiti relief to our mental rolodex and let it end there. We didn’t notice it. We just cataloged it.
It occurs to me that the real lessons of life lie in noticing, in paying attention, in processing. All around us are opportunities to learn from our fellow humans. But we have to step outside our own prison of busyness in order to notice, then to ask, then to understand. And, finally, to apply to our own lives. It all begins with the noticing.