How long has it been since you looked, really looked, at someone that you love a lot?
I was doing the usual after-work bustle the other night. Having both children home and secured, I was making dinner and unloading the dishwasher and feeding the cat and mentally going through my “to-pack” list for my trip to NYC this week and only half listening to Dylan babbling about something he was doing on the I-Pad and only half listening to Marlowe laughing about something she was watching on the tv and only half paying attention to the chatter between them. Only half, and that might even be giving me too much credit.
And then Dylan said something that I actually heard and it made me laugh. And I walked over to where he was sitting and kneeled down and looked at him. I looked at him as he told me more things, and watched his face as it crinkled up in laughter and saw his eyes glitter. And it occurred to me that it had been awhile since I really really looked at him. Took him in. And then I looked over at Marlowe and she looked up and smiled at me and I smiled back and we just looked at each other for a minute. Really looked. And I noticed how much older she seems somehow.
I wonder how many days I let go by without actually looking at them just to look. Just to take them in. Just to appreciate. And what of everyone else? My hubby? My mom? Friends and family? In the daily flow of life, we fill our days with transactions, and though those transactions may involve each other it’s so easy to go through them with our head down and our minds elsewhere. And in the midst of those transactions we miss so much, if we’re not careful. We miss the expression of worry that passes ever so subtly over our child when we ask them about their day. We miss the unique way the sun catches the sparkle in our spouse’s eye in the mornings. We miss the way our child concentrates so diligently to get to the next level on that new game. We miss the need for attention. We miss the attempt to be noticed. We missed the want.
It’s a tough skill, this looking, because it involves looking without distraction. And it’s one thing to conquer the looking-without-doing-something-else, but it’s another thing all together to conquer the looking-without-thinking-about-something-else. In the steady hum of life’s transactions, stepping aside from all of it for a moment can be harder than it seems. Because it means I let dinner wait for a few minutes, and I stop worrying about that unsent email for a few minutes, and I ignore the ding of my phone for a few minutes, and I leave the laundry in the washer for a few minutes, and I leave the thoughts about tomorrow’s to-do list behind for a few minutes… but if I can do it, oh! if I can actually step aside from all that, if even for a moment, then I’m free to really look at what’s important. And what’s important might be up to something that I don’t want to miss.
Are you really looking today?