Slowing down and looking closely


“Let’s all slow down,” I said as I introduced one of my favorite picture books in a recent presentation to a group of librarians and teachers. I always seem to have a weakness for picture books that focus on little things. Simplicity. Patience. Observation.

I suppose I wish my life were simpler and that I were more patient and observant.

I was reminded of how much I value slowness and observation as I listened to a recent episode of Pratfalls of Parentin in which visual artist Karen Kasel spoke of the role that slowing down played in her life and art–having kids forced her to slow down. Now that her kids are school-aged, she wants to share the idea of slowing down and looking closely with them. How do you convince a kid that slowness and patience are worth it when you have to compete with tech and all the other distractions we have?

I don’t know. But I know that I would start with a few good picture books.

  • How To by Julie Morstad is one of my favorite picture books of the year for its look at the everyday beauty that we often overlook.
  • If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano is another good one for reorienting your perspective to the small joys.
  • Little Bird by Germano Zullo reminds us to cherish small things.

And for you? Once you’ve let the picture books settle a bit, stop by the Hidden in Plain View exhibit–currently at the Minneapolis Central Library through October 26th–for several perspectives on everyday beauty from local photographers. The exhibit is quiet and thoughtful. The photographs contain people and places we’ve probably seen-but-not-seen a million times. Here is your chance to stop, to remind yourself that there is much to see if we take the time to look.

Books, art, music. These are my touchstones. When I need to reorient my perspective to my values, I turn to these things. How do you recharge? What reminds you to live your values?