I intentionally left my cell phone in my office on my way to Joe Van Gogh for a coffee and told myself, “You will notice what is going on. Just notice.”.
I noticed my shoulders back and my chest out as I walked, happy in one of my favorite dresses that looks fantastic. I also noticed another woman a few steps behind me, heading for coffee as I walked in. I stopped to hold the door. There weren’t many people there but there was one gentleman whom I often see. Just by my intentional use of the word “gentleman” you may know already that is much older. He watched the people come and go, likely me too, but I didn’t notice him until I was waiting for my cortado. I watched him watch the chatty women next to him and thought, “someday, when I am as old as he is, no one will notice me either.” I thought about what this meant. I will be an old woman on a bench sitting a coffee and no one will talk to me, or likely even really see me.
Near the door, I saw a poster for the art on the walls and saw the quote “nothing gold can stay” at the top. It felt eerily appropriate in that moment. The quote wasn’t cited and I couldn’t remember who said it*. My mother would have known. She knew poetry and writing and art but, as often happens now, I can’t reach her to ask. Leaving Joe Van Gogh, I noticed that loss. I didn’t think, “Oh why?” but I did think “Oh Y!” which is what I called my mother. If I had been able to tell her about the old man, she would have said she’d LOVE to sit in a corner and have no one notice her. We would have laughed at that, me a little more uncomfortably than she.
When I told someone where I worked last week she said, “Oh it’s the brick building.” And I looked at her and said, “I don’t think it’s brick.” On the way back to my office this morning, I looked up. Outside The Mom Box is on the first floor of the Lane Professional Building at the corner of Broad and W. Club in Durham. The building is brick. But I didn’t notice. I’ve had an office here for over a year.
When I put aside technology for a few moments, during my drive or two weeks, I notice more. I crave that mental click that comes when I make a connection or take a risk as a result of my noticing. It doesn’t happen as often when I’m plugged in. I don’t think it does for any of us. But you need it as much as I do.
When most of us go as fast as we can most of the time, noticing is an act of bravery. But it’s not just my act, is it?