I believe in the power of observation.
Last year one early evening, I sat waiting for my train with all the other mass commuters. I remember looking at a woman next to me who seemed sad, lost in thought, but I remember thinking, she has this big expensive designer bag on her lap, what could she be so worried about, observing wealth and character. And then, I heard a shout as the train approached, I saw a man ran and throw himself in front of that train. The next few minutes were a blur, but I found myself holding the “sad, lost in thought, big expensive designer bag lady’s” hand, we both had observed something horrific. I observed the jumper’s grief, pain and despondency. I wanted to know why? Why did he want to kill himself?
Observations instruct us about everyday life. It analyzes the mundane, whirling it into a keepsake, binding itself to DNA. To observe is to bear witness. Observation is one of the first things creatures do. Observing stimulates our innate curiosity and makes us pay attention to what is important; Gleaming the good and weeding the bad.
Perhaps I made more observations than the “typical” child, I had an innate sense that I needed to observe others so I could live a normal life. When I was 4 I lost my mother. She died unexpectedly at a very young age. I had no mother to watch. I had to pick and choose from family, friends and complete strangers, the morals and intrinsic worth that one gets from their mother. I had to make a quilt from a variety of fabric.
I watched my maternal Grandmother face the world without her daughter, I observed her courage and strength, all virtues that cannot be taught through traditional language. I studied my Father as he mourned quietly so not to scare his children. I viewed my Step-Mother loving me unconditionally and for no apparent reason except to love me because I was in her life. I watched as my husband accepted me and my son into his home without hesitation. I observed grace.
As an adult, Mother and wife I realize the importance observations have played and continue to play in my life. What I once observed and incorporated into my life I now am being watched with the discerning eye of my children, my family and my community and collectively all this becomes cyclical. One observation begets others. As we change so do our actions and so do our behaviors. And through observing my children, I get to a secret pass to observe myself.
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