Part of the job of a writer is to capture a moment or scene by utilizing the five senses. What’s wonderful about this, especially in our “chronically-overscheduled” lives (one of Nathan Bransford’s terms that I love), is it gives you license to slow down, take time and observe the world around you.
As I write this post while on my back patio, I purposely listen to the hard buzz of cicadas, variations on a song by a mockingbird and the soft whir of the fan overhead. There’s not a bit of a breeze through the woods around our house. The leaves are still. It’s a sunny morning, but the air’s so heavy, it settles on my skin and makes my hair frizz like a squirrel tail. (Yes, I live in the South.) My coffee’s unfortunately cold now. I forgot about it. And…there’s the whine of a mosquito. Hold on a sec. …Okay, one less of them in the world now.
See? Practicing being observant can be helpful. But seriously, next time you’re out and about, take notice of how many people are looking down at some hand-held device while sitting in a beautiful park with lots going on around them. How many are scrolling, typing with thumbs or chatting while walking nonchalantly right in front of your car or someone else’s? OR typing away while they’re driving?
Paying attention is therefore, obviously healthy for a multitude of reasons. It allows us to see the beauty and quirkiness in daily life, as well as the dangers.
Even in promoting awareness of a cause, we tend to read and share articles and posts via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. And this is wonderful; don’t get me wrong. But when we don’t look up, what are we missing?
Over the last few days, I’ve been working on a presentation to educate people on the signs of human trafficking while they’re going about their daily routine. So much is hidden in plain sight. It just takes notice. A second look. Trafficking victims aren’t just in brothels. They’re at bus depots and other transportation hubs. While you’re at a stoplight, sipping your coffee, they may be on the street corner or at a tourist attraction where you’re buying tickets for your family.
I know sometimes life can be so overwhelming; we actually don’t want to see. We’d rather just hunker down and get through our day. But in taking that second look, you may well give someone a chance at a future that is no longer bleak, or ever allowed to skid down a path of misery in the first place. Because of you, someone else might later observe that same person and be able to smile, warmed by the hopeful moment captured that otherwise might not have been.
What experience have you had, where taking a second look, made all the difference to you or someone you love? Or maybe even to a stranger?If you’re interested, here’s the link for signs of human trafficking, via The A21 Campaign.