A few weeks ago, a friend recommended that I read the book The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. I had never heard of the author or the book, but did a quick google search and was intrigued by the description so I put it on hold at the library. I'm now three quarters of the way through it, and have found something that spoke to me enough to have me thinking about it for three whole days, so I thought I'd blog about it, too.
The book basically centers around an old man named Jones, and the interactions he has with different people in the community. Jones is a "noticer," meaning he notices things that others don't. He helps them see things from a new perspective. In one of these interactions, he is speaking to a man about how to change his life for the better. He asks, "Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many seagulls are left?"
Go ahead, answer the question...
The man said four. I thought four as I was reading it, and chances are you did, too. Turns out we're all wrong.
"No," Jones responded. "There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things."
Think about that for a minute. How many times in life have we commited to something, whether in our minds or verbally, but never followed through?
I intend to eat better and exercise more so I can reach my goal weight.
I intend to take the time to learn to speak German, the language of my ancestors.
I intend to focus on my faith and be a better Christian role model for my friends and family.
I intend to explore the possibility of becoming an author to tell our story in hopes of helping another family avoid the tragedy of undiagnosed disease.
These are just a few of the intentions that have crossed my mind in the past year (in no particular order). The author goes on to state that there is "no difference between the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place."
That's a powerful statement. We all want to do good and be good. We think about the things we can do to help ourselves and our family. We think about reaching out to people in need. We intend to be the best person we can possibly be... but how often do we follow through? It's so easy for life to get in the way and when it does, so many of those intentions fall by the wayside.
I was going to, but I just ran out of time.
It makes my head hurt to think about all of the intentions I've had over the years that fell to the side to make room for other things - some of which were never intended and certainly not productive or beneficial to myself anyone around me.
And as if that's not enough to think about, the author concludes the paragraph by saying, "Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions?"
Think about that for a minute.
I don't know about you, but I've been guilty of this. I'll see someone, for example, who is over weight eating something that is obviously not good for them, and sometimes will feel pity. Look at that! No wonder she looks that way! Or disgust... Why is she doing that to herself? How dumb do you have to be to choose a box of ho-ho's instead of a healthy meal?
And then I take my break at work and grab a diet soda and two donuts on my way upstairs.
No, no, no, it's ok for me to do that, because, see, I usually watch what I'm eating, and I intend on getting to my goal weight! I joined the gym, and intend to work out three times a week! I've already gone twice in the three weeks I've been a member! It's ok, really!
This of course is a bit of an exaggerated scenario, but you get what I'm saying. Going forward, I intend to follow through more. Perhaps not try to fill my plate so full of intentions, so that more of them can actually stick and come to fruition. Focus on the things that are important, and clear away the clutter of things that truly don't matter.
Thanks for the new perspective, Jones.