The theme of my life lately has been the act of noticing. It sounds benign enough, but oh boy! does it have huge implications in our lives. It began with a movie I watched called, Twelve and Landing. In this amazing movie all the characters made life changing decisions based on whether or not they were noticed as human beings. Why does it have such an effect on people's lives?
Noticing, in my experience has an anti-wilting affect on the human soul. Having worked with kids for many years, I have always experienced the joy kids feel when you see that something unique in them, and let them know it, make them aware that you know about this 'diamond nugget' you see in them. It's no wonder then, that we as adults too need this soul feeding experience. It's human nature to have this need to not only be loved and valued, but also to be noticed and acknowledged for the our more unique and more subtle qualities.
This new theme and focus on the value of attention and noticing has even made me reconsider the way I raise my own children. For example, for the past three years I have been involved in DC's education policy battle to bring back common sense into the District. Right now we have more and more testing each year, a churn of new inexperienced teachers being hired yearly despite hundreds of effective, experienced teachers being displaced by budget changes. In addition there is less and less emphasis in the arts and project-based learning due to this obsession with raising a tests score. This 'battle', as I call it, has taken me away from my own children due to countless meetings and added responsibilities. Yet, even if I were to be 'successful' in my advocacy work, I figured the ultimate return on my kids' education would have been minimal. I began this policy work as a way to better my children's education, yet, meanwhile they would have lost all this valuable and irreplaceable quality time with me. I have therefore chosen to refocus my energies on a much more sure-return on my efforts, quality time with my kids as a priority. In the act of noticing them, listening to them and valuing them beyond just because they are mine will make more of a difference in their lives than 1000 hours of education advocacy work in the District.