In the noticing is the magic


Last week, my dear friend Pam left a comment here in which she mentioned her realization that “in the noticing is the magic.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that.  Pam’s one powerful sentence startled me, and has suddenly made so much clear.  I write ad nauseum about all the magic I see in my regular life, about the beauty that I experience in the most mundane moments, about the glitter in the grout.

My children see the way the extraordinary shimmers inside the ordinary, and there’s no question that it is because of them that I can now see it too.  The ways in which my children have taught me to see are myriad.  Some are literal, like toddler Whit crouching on the sidewalk to admire a dandelion pushing up between two bricks or eight year old Grace telling me point-blank that my life is full of magic.  Less directly, by stripping bare that brutal truth from which I spent so many years trying to distract myself – that time passes so swiftly it takes my breath away – Grace and Whit have taught me to slow down and to pay attention.

Our lives are full of holiness.  That much is true.  I can’t stop seeing it.  But my revelation – thanks to Pam – is that it is the seeing that makes it so.

Last week, on our second day in Niagara Falls, we went on the Maid of the Mist.  Whit wanted to stand downstairs.  Grace wanted to stand upstairs.  I negotiated this particular impasse and spent half of the boat ride with each of them.  There was some petulance and pouting by Grace and some arguing by Whit and finally I told them to quit it.  After the boat docked we made our way up the wooden walkway underneath the falls, our sneakers soaking wet, the mist pounding us (“mist” seems like a euphemism for a drenching, heavy rain).  I had to walk in between the kids because they were mad at each other.  We didn’t see much on our way up because we were focusing down, on the slippery trail and big puddles.  At the top we turned around. A rainbow.  All three of us gasped.


That evening, Grace and Whit squabbled and I yelled at them and threatened to take away the post-dinner water park visit they’d so looked forward to.  They pulled it together, and we went to the water park, and then to watch fireworks over the Falls at 10:00.  It is telling that I can’t remember what they fought about (though I do recall raising my voice and that uneasy, ugly feeling after doing so).  I can remember standing with a child on each side of me, head tipped up, watching the night sky explode with brightness over the breathtaking beauty of the nighttime Falls.


And then we went to bed.  I slept fitfully for the second night in a row because the hotel air conditioning alternated on and off all night long.  In the morning, I lay awake and watched Whit sleeping in the next bed, his monkey, Beloved, clutched under his chin.  Grace’s tousled dark head was just visible on the other side of him.  I don’t know that there’s a sight I love more than my sleeping children.  And all together in a hotel room?  That’s pretty much my favorite thing.  I didn’t care that I was exhausted.  I just watched the shadows of Whit’s eyelashes on his cheeks.


It isn’t that I’m paying attention because my life is magic.

It’s that my life is magic because I’m paying attention.

Thank you, Pam.  You’ve given me my new mantra.  In the noticing is the magic.

32 thoughts on “In the noticing is the magic”

  1. Wow. I do love that Pam!! What a perfect sentence. I think I am going to adopt that one too. And I love your story. I giggled at you going back and forth between the two floors. Why is it that siblings fight over things like this? I can picture my girls doing the same exact thing!

  2. Once again you have reduced me to tears because it’s YOU who taught me. I was driving to petsmart to dog classes last week and it was raining and I was so tired and my kids were bickering and I was thinking about the clunky day you had and how you found the magic anyway. So I thought, what would Lindsey do? 🙂 And I realized that it was SUMMER and we were listening to one of my favorite books on tape and now the boys stopped bickering and were talking about swim lessons and there was a puppy in the back of the car. And all of a sudden MAGIC because you taught me how to notice it. Thank you!! xoxo

  3. Love all your posts, but some just reach me on a deeper, more profound level than others. This is one of them. I don’t have to deal with inter-sibling bickering, though I suppose the only child equivalent is the ridiculous amount of complaining that ensues after I/we decide to do something that doesn’t jive with HER agenda. Creates a funk of annoyed vibes, on both ends. Then, without fail, something lovely (though often small) will shake and shove us back to center. But I’ve certainly learned that you must have keen eyes to notice those things.

  4. Yes! I can understand why that stood out in your mind, and now it makes perfect sense to me too why I’m so happy, so content in the most ordinary of days. It’s because my eyes have been wide open, and I’m noticing everything! Maybe this relocation to Austin from Chicago has made me even more acutely aware of the magic, considering I’m willing to find any and all reason to make me love this place. And I do. I really do.

    Thank you for sharing, Lindsey. As always, you know how to say it in the loveliest, most poignant way just what I’ve been feeling all along.

  5. Magic, glitter, fabulous! I’m like Pam and always think “what would Lindsey do?” and without fail, I put down whatever was distracting me and give my attention to the here and now. It makes me happy inside that I get “it.” Thanks for the new mantra, it’s perfect.

  6. It IS the magic in the moment, looking up from what we’re doing or what we’re worried about, and noticing the beauty around us. I’m finding that I’m noticing the absence of the moments right now, which is painful. Someday you’ll even miss the bickering, I imagine.

  7. Oh, man … all I can think of is how I do NOT live up to this!!! But I’m glad you experienced some magic, even in the midst of the rain and the bickering and exhaustion … xox

  8. Thank you so much. I really appreciate hearing that. And I love the image of being shoved back to center. That’s how it works, often, at least for me!

  9. Hi CT! Love hearing from you. You wouldn’t be the first person to notice I have Buddhist tendencies … xoxox

  10. Gah! I would so surely disappoint you, but it is nice to hear that. And I’m so glad that this resonates. xox

  11. “In the noticing is the magic.”

    A thousand times yes, I got chills when I read that. Because in the day to day, especially lately, when I have been going through some big and difficult stuff, I sometimes forget that this life is the only one that I get, and that it is so important to see. To notice. Because the hard and annoying stuff will always be there. But so will the magic, if we just remember to see it it. Thanks for the reminder.

  12. I love when someone makes the name for the things I’ve been feeling and believing but haven’t articulated. That’s what this is to me. Yes, absolutely yes, the magic is in the noticing. So lovely.

  13. Another WWLD here! Thank you, thank Pam, for the words that help me stop and notice all the beauty in this magical life.

  14. I’m sorry about the big and difficult stuff, and absolutely relate on the chills. Yes, and yes. xoxo

  15. You guys are making me giggle (and making me ever more aware of how insufficient I am for that kind of comment). xoxox

  16. Oh my gosh this is all so gorgeous and true. I love love those last lines. I’m in the chaotic midst of moving (midst makes me think of “mist” as in torrential rain versus light sprinkling) and it’s crazy and sad and stressful and exciting. I will revisit this post and Pam’s wise words when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the grout and keep my eyes and heart open for glitter.

    This post is just what I needed on the cusp of big change, thanks Lindsey.

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