Driving with my sister through Texas the night before Hurricane Harvey hit, I witnessed one of those rare sunsets that no camera can possibly capture. Rich fuchsias and oranges melted into deep purples, and the rolling hills cast shadows that were so amazing we had to pull our car over and just relish the wonder. As we watched the colors change, my sister uttered the words, “I see you.”
Later, as we set off again, I asked her about what she had said. She told me a story about my nephew’s basketball coach. Every single day, my nephew showed up for basketball practice. He showed up for every camp available, every workout, and every opportunity to play or practice. When basketball season started, my nephew was there for every game, even if he spent most of his time on the bench. When he would play, the second he made a play or tried hard, one coach made a point to yell across the echoing gym, “I see you, Diaz. I see you!” These three words mattered to my sweet nephew- they reminded him that someone saw him, saw his hard work, and that he had a place in the world.
We get so busy in this world, the hustle and bustle of a million different obligations in every which way. It is easy to get swept up in the franticness of our everyday responsibilities, and to become myopic in taking care of ourselves. What a powerful reminder to stop, be present, see others, and let them know that you do indeed see them. Let them know that they matter.
Mindfulness has two integral components. The first is what we typically think of, with mindfulness being conscious, in the moment, of the world around us. When we are blessed with a quiet moment, mindfulness might occur as we sit on a soft cushion and meditate. Other times, mindfulness might happen as we sit on crowded and rickety bleachers in a noisy high school gymnasium. This part of mindfulness connects us to the moment- we can nurture it through meditation and breathwork, shifting our minds to be fully present.
The second part of mindfulness is being conscious, in the moment, of those around us. A vital part of our experience in this world involves mindfully connecting with others, whether this is connecting with a child, or a grandparent, or a beloved animal. When we are fully present in any given moment, one of the gifts of being mindful is connecting with others in that moment. This part gets a little trickier, because sometimes we tell ourselves that we are connecting, when really we may be sitting across from each other while we browse on our phones.
Connecting, being mindful of others in the moment, means seeing each other. It means saying, “Diaz, I see you!” as a kid bounds across the slick basketball court, or “I see you!” as you lift your sweet old cat up for a nuzzle before you feed him. When you tell someone or something that you see them, you are acknowledging that you see their wonderfulness, their magic, and that you value them. As you start saying and thinking these three magical words, you might find that it is contagious. I know all it took was hearing my sister say, “I see you,” to our breathtaking sunset for me to start seeing the world a little more mindfully.