Paying attention


Notice that around you

Notice that around you

Last night I wrote about Christmas being all around us.  This is about things all around us, but not Christmas things.

I’ve been at this 365 project for 32 days now.  I’m sure you, dear reader, have heard the expression that it takes 30 days to make a habit.  I can attest to the veracity of that statement with regard to prayer and exercise, as they are both a part of my daily routine, without which I feel lost.  Waking time, meals, bed time are all habits, part of the rhythm of our lives.  When we get out of sync with these habits, our days often take on a character that we would rather not choose.

On the other side of that coin, the strength of habits has us look for opportunities that we might otherwise bypass.  For instance, when I am traveling I continue with my prayers and my exercise, creating spaces in the day where they will fit.  They are important to me, and I am not willing to let them slide simply because I am not at home.  I might be at a conference where I will study the agenda, seeing where I can carve out an hour to run a few miles and pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

With respect to my 365 project, I have noticed some things changing about how I look at the things around me.  I am now looking for things to shoot, rather than letting them just come to me.  I look at light differently, seeing shadows play on the surfaces of ordinary things that would be unlikely to draw my attention without this project.  I also see things that I wouldn’t typically see.  This bit of stained glass, for example.  I’m a big fan of stained glass, and I have tremendous access to some incredible works of art in this medium.  This depiction of the keys to the Gates of Heaven is essentially new to me, yet I have walked past it hundreds, maybe thousands, of times.  If someone had said to me “Isn’t that piece of stained glass with the crossed keys beautiful?”, I would likely have looked at him in a puzzled manner and asked where such a piece might be.

Today I saw this for the first time.  More accurately, I paid attention to it for the first time.  For my readers in Cheyenne, this window is in the entryway to the offices of St. Mary’s Cathedral, where I have been a parishioner for 31 years.  I was visiting with one of our priests when, on my way out, my eye was caught by the low light of the sun at 3:45 pm, hitting the edge of the glass and illuminating it as if just for my benefit.  I had my camera with me, something I do now that I’m in the middle of this project, and knew what my shot would be for the day.

In a similar manner, I think about what I’m going to write each day as well.  When I started this project, I didn’t anticipate that my shots would illustrate my stories, that they would be independent of each other.  It’s actually worked out in the opposite, as my stories illustrate my shots.  I find something to shoot, process it, post it, then start writing. The photo inspires what comes out of my imagination, and pretty soon I have 500 or 600 words  on the page.

I’m glad I am undertaking what I thought at first to be an almost impossible task, i.e., a daily photo and blog post.  It’s not impossible at all, and I am starting to see some real benefits to it.

Amazing things are all around us.  We just need to open our eyes and pay attention.

I wonder what awaits me tomorrow?


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