Have you ever sat in the middle of a busy place and just watched people bustling past? When you do, you see them all going in their different directions with their personal needs and plans, often not even seeing what is around them, or each other. Likewise, have you ever sat by a river or on a beach or in a forest, and just noticed? Breathing in the air, hearing the noises of nature, smelling the scents all around you. It is so easy to get caught up in small problems of the everyday and forget to notice. When you are living life, rushing from one thing to the next, it is easy to forget to stop and appreciate the beauty of just being alive.
It is easy to become stuck in your own life and this creates selfishness. People who don’t seem to care about our planet or other people, are failing to notice. They are so caught up in their own agenda, beliefs, problems or goals, that they can not see all the others. Their actions are all about their own comfort, their own success, their own value and power.
I am very lucky to have grown up with parents who taught me to notice people and planet. To appreciate beauty in all things. To see other human beings, really notice them and connect. To appreciate nature and all her glory. In every day I see the sunlight, the way it creates shapes in the leaves of the trees, the wrinkled bark of the gumtrees on my morning walk, arms outstretched to hold the many birds who call form above. I see the mother koala and her baby on our walking track, peeking out with curiosity. I hear the creek dancing along the stones and smell the deep scent of wet earth and unfurling flowers. I also see other people and make connections with those who others might walk past.
Recently we struck up a conversation with a cleaner in a busy aquarium. Everyone was focused on the penguin feeding, but we ended up finding out about her upcoming 50th birthday and her plans to celebrate it with her daughter in the same place we had just visited. To most other people in that room she was nothing but a passing object. To us, she enhanced our experience of that day, and I am sure we did the same for her.
One of the best ways to notice is to start with yourself and your own surroundings. This starts with appreciation of age – in stuff and in ourselves. We must stop the push to just valuing the new, the shiny, the pristine and the latest, and place genuine value on the importance of learning from people and things who have spent time in the world. Many of these people have spent a lot of time noticing the world. They have so much to share. Youth is wonderful but not at the expense of the old. Noticing the beauty of rust, speckled across a tin, the marks and dents in a timber dresser, worn steps on the porch, the many layers of bark in a tall tree, standing for hundreds of years. seeing the strength in something that has stood the test of time.
When it comes to noticing and valuing yourself, see the lines and wrinkles in your own face, that speak of the joy and sadness of a life…. grey flecks in your hair, marks on your body from all the living…. There are stories and wisdom in time. With age comes grace and generosity and knowledge. With time comes so much noticing. When I am in an old house in a storm I always feel safe knowing it has weathered many such events. When I see the way my eyes have changed shape, my face etched with many hours of laughter and tears, my legs softer, hips wider, all from experiencing life, lived days with grief and exquisite joy, I know I can weather any storm and I am home.
Noticing matters when it comes to your experience of life. It matters because it increases your mental health, it means you make the most of every day, and it grounds you in the moment. It also matters because when you see the rainbows, hear the wind, feel the sunshine, taste your morning cuppa, smell the beauty of the first rose, you are connected to our planet. Rushing blindly through life means you miss out. You fail to notice and you forget there is a much bigger world out there than the one on your to-do list. You are here but for a moment. Make sure you don’t miss it.