by Steph Creaturo
Beck, my 2.5 year old son, is obsessed with construction vehicles. Backhoes and flat bed trucks in particular, but really, anything that digs a hole, pushes dirt, or lifts a beam is fair game. Recently, we had a particular thrill of seeing a backhoe loader on the back of a flatbed truck. Talk about a score for a two and a half year old boy!
Construction sites I would have previously ignored or crossed the street to avoid now provide hours of entertainment. We get as close as we can to the action and squeal away. I now know what a grabber truck does and what a skid steer loader looks like. Before Beck was born, I had no idea these things even existed, forget about their names and their purpose in the world.
Now, even when I’m not with Beck, I notice how many construction vehicles there are on the city streets. My whole family is on vehicle watch. Angela called us the other day and reported that she just saw not one, but two (!) cement mixers in a row. She was more than a little excited to tell Beck this. When I got the phone back, Ang wondered aloud what we’ve all been musing: “Were there always this many construction trucks in the city?”
Probably, but I never noticed them. How could that be? Have you ever seen one? They are huge and noisy and hard to miss.
Was it because I wasn’t paying attention? Well, yes.
In paying attention to these massive yellow machines, I notice that I only pay selective attention to the world around me. Hey, it’s a totally valid – and necessary – survival technique in New York City. But as the construction vehicles and Beck are teaching me, everything I need to see is already there. Whether or not I actually see it is a whole other matter.
When I used to meditate, I wondered what I wasn’t paying attention to in the world. I’d then get up off my blanket stack and go try to pay attention to all the stuff I was ignoring. It never worked. And all I noticed was that I just wasn’t paying attention.
As my current meditation practices are much less subtle — seeking out big yellow trucks roaring down Atlantic Avenue with Beck in the stroller – they are the jolt I needed. What we notice is certainly shaped by where we are in life.
But, as the obvious and mundane teaches me, I am now less concerned about what I’m not seeing. I focus on everything that is already there for me to appreciate, learn from, or love. It was just what actually got me to pay attention that shifted. I continue to be pleasantly surprised at how much is already there to begin with — and always has been.