The half moon shaped courtyard outside my consulting room was planted with herbs 12 years ago. From the rosemary bushes in the sunny corner I have harvested many slips for new plants and the lavenders have provided bunches of fragrant flowers for drying.
I also chose two small bayleaf trees, shaped into topiaries. This little haven of herbs has provided me with many hours of quiet and solace.
About two years after everything was planted I noticed that the tree at my side if the courtyard had grown quite a lot, while the other one around the corner, had simply remained the same size. I spoke to the gardener, we checked the sprinkler system and wondered about the amount of sun, but the two trees seemed to be growing in similar circumstances.
The next year the difference was now even greater, with the one tree doubling in size. I dug around the roots of the small tree to see if we had maybe left it in its potting bag. All was normal with the roots.
So years have passed, the one tree is now at least six metres high with a thick trunk and many branches, from which I have been picking bags of leaves for drying.
About 18 months ago a colleague moved into the vacant office on the other side of the courtyard. I was out in the garden harvesting rosemary when I noticed that the small tree has sprouted a number of new branches. I was so amazed and happy that the little one had ‘come to life’.
As I was sitting in my office later that evening, I could not help but wonder what effect the presence of my colleague has had on the growth of the little tree.
The next day I asked her if she ever noticed the tree.
‘Yes’, she said, ‘I look at it all day long from my chair where I sit when I consult. The best days are when the weather is good and we have the door open’.
It is recognised that when people experience being seen by others, not only seen with their eyes, but also seen with their hearts, flourishing happens. We feel noticed, worthy and special. Children who have absent parents crave the emotional response of being noticed and will often opt for negative attention, simply to be seen at all.
Children who have caretakers who notice them, make eye contact and physical contact with them, who listen to them attentively and respond without haste, seem to grow in their self-esteem in deep and meaningful ways.
Partners who spend quality time with their beloveds have a deeper understanding of the unspoken needs of each other. They are not only seen and responded to, they are observed deeply and it seems to feed the inner world of the individual with a rich and beautiful understanding that you are noticed and validated.
To see, and to be seen is therefor needed to flourish into the individuals that we are supposed to be. We have the potential to grow faster and stronger when we are aware that the people around us are taking notice of our unique and wonderful life. Wherever, or whatever the content of that life is, being noticed brings greater depth and validity to the current life situation.
We live in a time where the famous and wealthy are validated by social media for their lives. We see them everywhere, and we let them know that they are seen. But somehow the person living right next to you falls into oblivion because we have lost the focus to know that all living creatures need to be seen, need to be the focus of our attention from time to time, and need to experience being loved and honoured by the moment.
But something also happens to one who is doing the seeing. Have you noticed a parent’s smile when they see théír four year old walking onto the stage, or the owner of the new puppy who beams when they stare at their new friend? Watch a guy’s face as his looks at his girlfriend from a distance. Something is happening with the observer too.
So, to see, and to be seen changes the way we feel about ourselves. It is in the seeing that the loving lies, it is in the being seen that the love is absorbed.
I was out at the little tree again. Growing steadily, but growing at last. Because it is the daily seeing and loving that brings us all into bloom.