Something New

I was recently struck by a line in the book I Am a Pencil, written by Sam Swope.

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The book is Sam’s story of going into a third grade class and teaching creative writing. In one portion, the classroom teacher asks Sam if he has any homework for the kids, and Sam remembers what he calls “the best assignment I was ever given. One that changed my life.” He tells the kids that on their way home from school, he wants them to, “Notice something new, something you’ve never seen before, some little thing you’ll be glad you saw.”

The other day, I got home from the store, walked into the kitchen with my hands full of bags, and saw this out my window.

Look close . . . that's a parade of paddle boarders on Lake Austin.

Look close, all those little dots . . . that’s a parade of paddle boarders on Lake Austin.

This parade of paddle boarders was heading down the dead-quiet lake. There were at least a hundred of them, with boats escorts, and music, because all parades have music, right? I felt a little left out. Why didn’t anyone invite me? I googled and discovered they were a group benefitting Dam that Cancer, and they were paddling dam to dam on Lake Austin to raise money to help families dealing with cancer diagnosis. That’s over 20 miles of lake to paddle, and they’d  been at it since early morning.

It was easy to notice that particular “something new,” but some days I may have to try a little harder,  pay attention. I found this on the bathroom wall at BookPeople.

Graffiti on the bathroom wall at Bookpeople.

Graffiti on the bathroom wall at Bookpeople.

Wow. I’m in love with hash browns, too! There was more.

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Who knew such wisdom could be found on the bathroom wall? Then I found these in the bathroom at the new Royers Pie Haven.

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I love this “notice something new” idea of Swope’s. It reminds me of one of my favorite book characters. In Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee, Clementine is constantly being called into the principal’s office because she isn’t paying attention.

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But Clementine is paying attention. She’s paying attention to the clouds out the window, or the fact that the lunchroom lady is sitting in the janitor’s car and they are kissing.  Clementine is constantly “noticing something new,” paying attention, just not to her teacher.

Now that summer is upon us, I hope to have lots of time to notice new things, at least one a day. And I hope it becomes a habit I carry with me into busier times. As a writer it’s essential, and as a human, it’s a pleasure. I’ll allow my eyes to gaze out the window, my steps to slow on the sidewalk. You never know what you might find.

I saw this critter out the window of my car while driving down Koenig Lane.

I saw this critter out the window of my car while driving down Koenig Lane.

Cactus blooms on a hike in the greenbelt.

Cactus blooms on a hike in the greenbelt.

Benji and his friends are masters of finding "something new." They found this little turtle and kept him "safe" in a shoe.

Benji and his friends are masters of finding “something new.” They found this little turtle and kept him “safe” in a shoe.

 

6 thoughts on “Something New

  1. Hey there Meredith! Did you just start this? Liked the article! I’ll have to starting “looking” too! Actually, this week, I’ve seen a lot of people I didn’t expect to see at a temp job I’m doing. In 2 weeks, we’ll be in Michigan’s beautiful outdoors, so there will plenty to see that’s new!

    • Jenn, I remember those days as well. When I had really young kids, I slowed down a lot more often. The pace to the mailbox or from the parking lot to the store allowed for lots of discovering time! 🙂 Now they’re all grown up, and I have to remind myself to “stay slow” sometimes.

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