“This I Believe” – Observation
I believe in the skill of observation. There’s a reason the word is usually preceded by the phrase “the power of,” because close observation is powerful. Closely observing your world and the inhabitants around you combine the powers of intuition, skill, and intellect to form a heady concoction that eases one’s way through life.
There’s a show on cable where by solely employing his powers of observation, the main character solves crimes – sort of like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. (Of course, convinced no one would believe his observational talent is all that’s needed, he pretends to be psychic). But despite the show’s premise, it’s nice seeing observation getting it’s just due.
I’m the person who notices things. I’ve always been keenly aware of surroundings: people’s facial expressions and body language, for instance. People communicate through body language and facial expression far more eloquently than words. I see the lizard sunning on the terrace wall; I’m the driver who pulls over to rescue a turtle the size of a silver dollar. Most importantly, I can “read” another person, knowing when revelant information is being withheld or someone is lying. It’s all there, if only you choose to “read” it.
Although I’ve always been an observer, it hasn’t been until the past ten years or so that I’ve fully employed the skill in earnest. I think it’s coincided with growing more mature, years of dealing with a rare cancer, and my beginning work part-time. Which makes the case that 1) we relax and accept ourselves more authentically when we age, and 2) most of us lead too-too busy lives. If you’re hyper-scheduled, incredibly rushed, and over-caffeinated, you’d be better served slowing down, taking a breath, and taking advantage of the innate power we all possess, if only we choose to claim it. Everyone’s observant when they want to be – and don’t you have an advantage when you are? Do you remember how good it felt to act on and acknowledge the fleeting expression on your spouse’s face the time he needed you to pause and give him a hug in the middle of preparing dinner? Or pet your cat when she seeks you out and stares inquiringly? Stopped to really listen to your neighbor when their expression didn’t quite match the perfunctory reply of “I’m fine, thank you?” Help an anxious parent locate their missing keys? For observation smoothes the way in dealing with inanimate objects, too. I seldom lose things. When I do, like an earring that slips off or a ring that slides from a finger, I usually sense it missing in time to retrieve it by retracing my steps or just by looking around.
The power of observation is the power of awareness – the power of the moment. A professor I liked used to begin all his classes by clapping his hands together and declaring, “Be here now!” I can think of no other way to describe it as readily. Hone your innate skill. Act on the power you hold within. Continue to cultivate and watch it grow. Be here now.
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