Lately I’ve been thinking about noticing, and especially about how often I travel past a tree, a house, a wetland, a shop and fail to notice the color of the leaves, the presence of a porch, the kinds of fowl, or whether there’s an OPEN or CLOSED sign. I’ve become more aware of how much I miss with my inattentiveness through two very different books: The Book of Noticing by Katherine Hauswirth and Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers.
Hauswirth takes us along on her walks, inviting us to notice “salamanders, scents, science, spirituality, slugs, and more” with lyrical language and astonishing detail. My own excursions become more observant when they’re preceded by reading one of the essays in this collection.
Eggers (and illustrator Shawn Harris) made me attend to something I’ve never paid attention to, the Statue of Liberty’s right foot. Eggers notes, she’s not actually “standing” at all. He describes the statue’s main features, from crown to gown —and points out that her right heel is not planted but lifted, suggesting, “…she is walking! This 150 foot woman is on the go!” After all, he writes, she’s an immigrant too, and, he suggests, she’s stepping out into the harbor to give new arrivals from Italy and Norway, Cambodia and Estonia, Syrians, Liberians, and all who have or will come an eager welcome.
What might catch your attention in this coming year that you haven’t noticed before?
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.