When my grandson gets fussy, we’ve learned to head for The Ball and The Christmas Tree. (The Ball being a large exercise ball my daughter in law purchased to use during labor. The Christmas tree being – well, a seven foot Christmas tree with small multicolored lights.) Connor likes whoever is holding him to perch on the ball and bounce gently up and down while he gazes with rapt fascination at the tree lights. He can spend a good 30 minutes in this activity - an eternity in newborn minutes – perhaps longer if you sing a few songs while you bounce.
Here’s what I’ve noticed about babies, other than the fact that they wrap you around their tiny fingers in no time at all.
They really notice things.
Not just tree lights, but shadows on the wall, and ticking clocks, and whirling ceiling fans.
And faces. They especially notice faces.
I’ve read that newborns can only see up close – 8 to 12 inches in front of them. When Connor’s eyes latch on to something of interest within this range, his entire body becomes still as if he’s holding his breath. Nothing can redirect his attention. You can almost see the wheels of thought spinning in his brain – what is that? why is it there? what will it do next?
Of course, he has no name or understanding of the things he sees. But they fascinate him all the same, and stimulate his mind to work in a thousand new directions while he tries to figure it out.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t noticed things in that way for eons. My eyes flit constantly from one object to the next, quickly scanning the horizon to see what’s coming my way. I wonder how my life, my writing, my music might be different if I were able to stop, be still, and really notice the things in the world around me, even if I don’t quite understand what they’re all about. If I were to stop looking so far in front of me and take some time to focus on what’s up close.
In this first week of the Advent season, we’re advised to begin our Watch for the Messiah’s coming. I think I’ll also be on the lookout for fascinating things right in front of my eyes, things that invite me to stop, be still, and really notice them.
How about you? What are the things you take time to stop, be still, and really notice?