I Want To Notice

The other day I was at work, readying the restaurant for the lunch shift, as I do most days, and I had this moment of clarity. I noticed the moment. I noted that I existed at that moment and I could hear, see, feel, appreciate everything.

I noted the cool, fall air, and the red leaves that were falling outside in perfect choreography with the wind. I felt the weight of my jacket on my arms as I took the chairs down and noticed how I didn’t feel compelled to be anywhere else.

I saw myself faintly in the reflection of the window… my, my, how things have changed in over a year.

I used to write about these moments all the time, and then when I came out, and my writing shifted into advocacy mode, I stopped. It was as if my own life wasn’t the thing that got the clicks and the shares, and so I just started focusing on that, forgetting how much I enjoyed noticing and writing about the ordinary. Before I had to be someone, before I felt the compulsion to be a radical blogger, I just talked about stuff.

I wrote this one blog on my Tumblr about the armchair I had in my room, and what it taught me about slowing down. I feel like I’ve got something to learn from that. Another time I wrote about the ritual of making coffee. Another time I wrote about how I felt about TV shows and why I was addicted to them.

No one really read them. And I didn’t care. I wonder what it would be like to go back to that? One of my favorite bloggers, Jamie Wright, has acknowledged how she barely writes anymore, at least on her blog. She posts maybe once every few months and the things she produces are brilliant. If only I could be that lucky. Writing has become a little bit of a job now for me. As has the podcast and youtube channel.

It’s a struggle to find the time, and the time I do find, I’d instead do something else. I’d rather read a book I’ve meant to finish. I’d rather watch Netflix. I’d rather do a hundred other things than the work…

But I do the work. I put the time in because after it’s all said and done, I am better for it. Regardless of whether people read what I write, the practice of creating is good for my soul. It causes me to slow down, which I’m honestly horrible at doing.

Maybe it has something to do with the change of seasons. With the shift temperature comes a shift in wardrobe. With the passing days, we get closer to Advent. And maybe with all the different things happening, I’m prone to notice the difference. Then that begs me to look at myself and notice the difference.

All the ways I’ve shifted.
All the days that have passed me by.
All the different things happening in my heart and spirit and person.

I’m not who I was a year ago, let alone at the beginning of this summer. And I’m curious as to where I’m headed and who I might become.

I’m managing the restaurant I that I thought was going to be a temp job on the way to something better. I am helping lead a house church when just a year earlier someone said I couldn’t. I’m applying to a different school than I was admitted to initially. Some of my closest friends have moved away. I’m now in a committed relationship a man that I never saw coming, and I’m learning every day how to be a better partner.

I still haven’t gotten into a fitness practice. I’ve let my meditations slip. I’ve not been to church as much as I did at the beginning of the year. In fact, I’m probably more ambiguous about my beliefs than I’ve ever been…

What a time this past year has been. What a time to be alive….

…I’ve recently met some people who have told me that the things I do, write, say on the internet, have been helpful. And that’s encouraging because so much of this work feels like it’s just going out into the void of the internet into the infinite zeros and ones, never actually making a difference to anyone. I see the number of views and listens, but there’s a big difference when you meet someone face to face, when you can see the impact.

And it feels odd in some ways because I feel like such a fake sometimes. Like if y’all only knew the skeletons I’ve kept in the closet in this past season… I feel tired. And I also feel like if I can’t be perfect in my advocacy or my creative life, if I can’t get the outcome desired, maybe I shouldn’t do it.

But that’s the lie. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be making a difference. In fact, the things that have helped me the most are things, people, stories, programs that were not quite perfect, but instead, they were aware of their flaws and kept going.

That’s my invitation for this season. To acknowledge the flaws and keep going. To notice things.

I want to notice things more. I want to feel the weight of my jacket on my arms and feel the cool of the fall. I want to see, really see, what is around me. The leaves changing, the expression on people’s faces, the changes in my neighborhood that are so mundane that no one sees them.

I want to notice myself more. I want to practice being present. I want to practice being in Presence. I want to talk about the little things and be in awe of the ordinary. I want to give more grace to myself when I’m not all I think I should be, and hopefully, as I’m gracious with myself, I can give it to others.

One day at a time, allowing myself to change like the seasons and giving myself to whatever the Spirit would have for me.

  • FlaemDragon

    ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect to be making a difference. In fact, the things that have helped me the most are things, people, stories, programs that were not quite perfect, but instead, they were aware of their flaws and kept going.’
    This was just what I needed today. We recently launched an Inclusive Church and I am fairly new to the weekly Sermon writing and random technical flaws with all new equipment and buildings. Bringing together a group of people from very diverse church backgrounds means I am getting a lot of conflicting feedback – it is not possible for the sermon to be both longer and shorter, for the worship to be both more modern and more traditional. But the feedback that made me doubt myself the most was that no one was interested in people’s stories of being hurt, they just want to hear from the bible. Our sermon series is on dealing with rejection and I have been including stories of people who have been rejected and how they coped and moved on. I learn best from an example of how someone has applied the bible verse not just reading the verse but we are all different! So I will be encouraged by your words that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be helpful and I will keep going. Xx

  • VisionaryJax

    Lovely, Kevin. Did you read Thomas Merton? Me, neither. I find him hard to understand. But my favorite thing is the story of his “conversion” — he was already a monk in podunk Kentucky or wherever his monastery is but one day he was in town and walked out of the hardware store (or some place, I don’t know what he was doing there, I like to think it was a hardware store), and it hit him like a thunderbolt that all the people walking past him WERE him, that they were part of him, and he part of them, and all part of God, and he just loved them. (And you can just imagine the knotty apple-core faces he was seeing going past him on the way into the hardware store). But not just them, this feeling of wholeness, belonging, it encompassed everything, the trees and the birds, the sky and the ground … It was the moment of his grasping the truth that “Christ is all and in all,” or as it is sometimes interpreted, “There is only Christ, and He is everything.” Literally everything. So the moment when you see your reflection in the glass, feel the clothes on your body, note the climate and the ambient sound and the faces of strangers … This is the Presence pushing in on you, saying, “There’s only you and Me, and we’re everything and everyone.” I doubt any of the everyday folks in Thomas Merton’s Kentucky would have agreed that they were part of him and part of his God — they probably would have thought he was crazy and may in fact have been offended by his claim to be in such kinship with them. They might even have had such radically different beliefs from him that it would have pained him to say “My brother, myself, my Lord” to them … and yet somehow that radical Presence, that Love, encompassed them anyway. Perhaps your desire to notice is really this realization breaking in on you. And maybe it will make it easier to love those who refuse to love and affirm you. You will have this foundation: there is only Christ, and he is everything, Love you, doll!