Once upon a time, we went car shopping. We went to the used car lot, looking for not one but two cars, since we were already looking for a second car when I hit a deer and totaled both our (only) car and the deer. (That’s another story.)
We finally settled on two cars – both of which happened to be from Mitsubishi. But at one point I asked, “Why aren’t there more Mitsubishis on the road? Why aren’t they more popular?”
The salesman (and my husband) looked at me as if I were from Mars and said, “Are you kidding? They’re all over the place.”
You know what? They were right. They were everywhere.
I had just never noticed them.
Until I started paying attention.
Rollo May wrote (in either Love and Will or The Courage to Create) that the root of the word “attention” is the word “to tend.” What does it mean to tend to something? It means “to care for.” Thus, he pointed out, people pay attention to things they care about. That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but it stopped me in my tracks. It made me think, and it has shaped my thinking ever since.
In Creating Space for Wonder, I wrote about the importance of Noticing: “I can create space for wonder by paying attention to the world around me.” Since then, I’ve begun noticing that other people are writing about the importance of Noticing as well.
Havi Brooks of The Fluent Self wrote a wonderful piece about a recent exercise she went through with Dave Rowley of Creative Chai that was focused on Noticing. Then Karen Caterson wrote a delightful piece for the Captains Curious, in which she described a situation where Noticing that she had fears and an agenda made it possible to set those fears and agenda aside.
It makes me laugh that I am noticing Noticing. It just does.
Maybe I am only noticing it because I am paying attention. I have started to care about it. Or maybe more people are noticing… things. And writing about it.
And one of the things I am noticing about this phenomenon is the relationship in these articles between noticing and freedom.
Noticing and Freedom
Havi appreciated the freedom of just Noticing what was happening without any obligation to do anything.
Noticing her reaction to a situation freed Karen to handle the situation differently than she might automatically have done.
By Noticing what is happening around and inside me I am able to create space for wonder and free myself from the encroaching walls of concern and worry.
Noticing can free us from reacting automatically to situations.
Noticing can free us from worry and future-tripping. (Unless all you notice is what reinforces your reasons for worry. That’s a whole other topic.)
Noticing can free us to choose our next step.
We are free to choose what we notice, although sometimes life whacks us in the head and we can’t help but notice something surprising.
What have you noticed lately? Anything surprising?
To what do you pay attention? What does this tell you about what it is you care about?