They Help You Notice Things

It was painting that finally helped Churchill slow down and learn how to see. He had been so busy, so ambitious, that he had not cultivated the eye or the discipline to slow down and look at the world around him, at the ground beneath his feet, at the loved ones right in front of him. Artistic hobbies can do that for you.

So can parenting. Nothing cultivates your eye quite like games of “I Spy” in the car. Helicopters have been flying overhead your whole life, but it was only when your son or daughter became obsessed with them that you started to really notice them. Do you think Sandra Day O’Connor went out and gathered cicadas before she was a parent and grandparent? No, it was the act of sending them off to curious children that got her to appreciate this gross but fascinating bit of nature.

The things our kids like, the things they notice and become consumed by—if we want to be a part of that process of discovery, we have to slow down. In order to notice. To develop an eye. To participate. Because we want to point things out. We want them to see.

So we pay closer attention than ever before. We keep our eyes peeled wider than ever before. We slow down in a way that if left to our own devices, we never would.

And for that, we must be grateful.

P.S. In case you missed it yesterday, we announced our newest creation over at Daily Stoic: The Memento Mori Life Calendar. The average human lifespan nowadays is 80 years. That means, your life is made up of (hopefully) 4,160 weeks. So the Memento Mori Life Calendar has 4,160 dots, each dot representing a week of your life and each row representing 2 years of your life. By filling in the Memento Mori Life Calendar every week, you will not only see how much life you’ve already lived (or as Seneca says, how much you’ve already died), but also how much life you’ve (hopefully) got left.

And of course, none of those to-be-filled-in dots are guaranteed. Every day it is true: this could be your last day on this planet. As wonderful as it would be if there was no such thing as death, we have to use death as a tool. We have to use it as a spur to move us forward. We have to use it to help us clarify what really matters—your kids, your family. And we have to be made better for the fact that we don’t know how much time we have. We never do. And we never will.

Memento Mori.

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