Long ago I read an article about a conversation between a father and his 3-year-old daughter. Each day, after she returned home from pre-school, he would ask her, “How was your day?”
The answer was always the same: “Good.”
Frustrated with this conversation-stopping, one-word answer, he decided to phrase the question differently to his daughter:
What did you notice today?
Things changed dramatically! The young girl opened up, citing numerous things she observed in her day. While I don’t exactly remember her long list, it went something like this: The colorful butterfly that landed on a leaf, the ant crawling over the playground, the milk her classmate refused to drink. What a change! Now they could have a meaningful father-daughter conversation about her day.
Though her observations may seem small and insignificant to us, they made a huge impact on her. And that’s the point. Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things in our days that impact us the most. A word, a silence, or a look may deeply impact us and even change the contour of our day. And what impacts us tells us something about ourselves.
I’ve always remembered and loved this father-daughter story because I believe that noticing is an important discipline. Noticing helps ground us, instills appreciation in us, and sensitizes us to others. In other words, noticing helps us to be where we are. And that is a discipline!
Now that the intense busyness of moving into a new home has diminished (though not entirely ended), I want to begin entering more fully into my retirement as I’d hoped. One of my hopes has been to slow down and notice. What do I see? Feel? Hear? At the end of the day, what spoke to me most colorfully, loudly, strongly? What appeared so subtle but had great impact on me? For what am I most grateful for this week?
So beginning today, I’m giving myself a challenge: For the next four weeks, I will publish a post about something I noticed that week. I begin today, and for today’s challenge, I’m sharing what I noticed, in pictures, at James Island County Park, an area of Charleston that Rick and I explored earlier this week.