On Notice

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?



15 thoughts on “On Notice

  1. When my daughter was six weeks old, we went on a trip to Wisconsin to visit my grandmother. One night there was a lightning storm (we don’t get those in my part of Alaska). Rowan lay on the bed held rapt by the lightning flashes, gazing out the window for the longest time. Of course, I was pretty fascinated myself. One of those forever-memories.

  2. This is the second post I’ve read this morning about observing. Angie also wrote about noticing the little things. I love when that happens. I take it as a sign, an invitation to pay attention.

    I can feel your joy, Becca. Thank you for sharing it with us. He’s as beautiful as you think he is and as smart… even smarter.

    • I read Angie’s post too, just after I wrote this one 🙂 Not the first time we’ve been in sync.

      The pace of life with a new baby is so slow, it gives you time to sit and contemplate everything from their tiny fingers and toes to the state of the universe 🙂

      • We have some long distance vibes going on. I love Connor’s eyes as he’s looking at you in this photo. Dillon’s eyes, and how they blinked as he looked around, was the first thing I remember about him. And when our eyes locked, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. I remember getting so teary watching him look around (and blink) and soak in the new world around him.

        The memories are a bit fuzzy with Blake because I was so busy chasing after Dillon!

  3. I have a feeling you’ve already learned that lesson on observing and using it in your writing. After all, you are seeing how Conner is crafting his space in the world, using the tools he has right now. And you are putting it into words. You may see more than you think, Becca — or at least, you are seeing what is important!

  4. Isn’t it appropriate we use the phrase “wide-eyed” to describe someone who is caught, entranced, fascinated by something? It’s that little bit of early life that stays with us – if we’re lucky!

  5. Becca, I agree with Jeanie who wrote that, “..you’ve already learned that lesson on observing and using it in your writing.”
    I love reading your writing because of the way you notice so many fine details.
    I know we can always be reminded to even slow down and pay better attention, but I just wanted to let you know that you’re better at it than you think!

  6. In a way Connor sees more than we, as he sees it pure for what it is…..grownups no longer see: they glimps and their brain already has an interpretation in line of the expectation. That’s why we read over typo’s etc: we don’t see our visual sight but an interpretation

    Wouldn’t it be fun or exhausting to truly see for a day?

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