We all want to be noticed.
Just the other day, I was looking over my teenage daughter’s shoulder while she clicked through Instagram “stories” at lightning speed. I asked her how she absorbs all that information, and she gave me a look (the one intended to remind me of how ignorant I am about social media) and then she said, “I don’t, I just click through them.”
This interaction got me wondering about how many things that we all just “click through” – emails, text messages, Facebook posts…the list goes on. Yet, what are we missing in the process? In the case of the Instagram stories, each one had a message and an intent yet barely got half a second of notice.
And who loses out? I immediately thought about when my children vie for my attention, and I don’t give them my full focus. Clearly my children lose out when this happens, but what about myself? What opportunity did I let pass by - what connection could I have made?
As Earth Day approaches and we all hone our stewardship skills, I’ve decided that my gift to both myself and our Earth will be my undivided attention. I'm aiming to truly notice and appreciate nature.
So far, I'm liking the results.
Just the other morning when I usually would have been hustling about, I decided to take my coffee outside and sit on the back steps. The sun was just peaking over the horizon. As I clasped the warm mug in my hands and sipped, I looked over at my neighbor’s Honey Locust tree where a congregation of birds was chattering away. To my surprise, they suddenly all took flight; their wings in sync as they circled the tree and landed back in the branches to resume their chirping.
It was so fleeting, but that moment took my breath away. While I’ve seen this kind of thing before, that morning I truly noticed it. My curiosity was piqued, and I kept wondering what spurred the spontaneous flight and why they had aborted their mission so quickly. And how did they all know to spread their wings at that exact second?
Having that brief, mindful moment connecting with nature affected the rest of my day and even my week. I found myself craving more. It left me pondering what else I could notice if I just took the time.
It seems also that refocusing my attention on nature has helped me to refocus on my stewardship of it as well.
A perfect example of this came while walking my son to the bus stop. The March winds had blown about a good amount of trash along our route and for some reason I had gotten lazy about picking it up. After a few days of mindful, nature moments, I found myself feeling a new resolve and I told my son that we'll bring a bag next time to pick up all that litter.
Buoyed by the recent peace and nature connection that I have felt, I am determined to keep carving out moments to appreciate and notice our natural world.
As your personal tribute to our Earth, I invite you to join me on this journey. Give yourself a gift and resolve to "click through" less and to notice more.
Wishing you time to Thrive Outside,
Founding Director and Landscape Architect of Thrive Outside