Using Focus to Find Appreciation

Two weeks ago my four-year-old son came home from a birthday party with a butterfly net as the parting gift. He was excited to show me the four-foot-long neon green poll and told me how he wanted to catch a butterfly with it.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a butterfly since we moved here more than two years ago buddy,” I told him.

Within a matter of seconds, a perfect butterfly flew from my neighbor’s yard into ours. We bolted towards the backyard, following it to the bush that was still flowering, where it landed. But as we got closer, it flew away, out of our reach and beyond where I was willing to go to catch a butterfly.

Minutes later, Evan and I were patiently sitting in the grass in the backyard. Waiting.

I didn’t know if that same butterfly would be back but seeing one gave me confidence that another would cross our path. I focused hard, looking into the trees, bushes and sky to spot one. I had to focus deeply — it’s not easy to see something two-inches tall flying in front of a canvas of an array of colors.

As I sat there, I thought about how we go through our days, moving so quickly that we ignore most of what is around us. In that moment, I looked at the texture on the leaves, the way the branches blew in the wind and closely at my son’s eyes as he intently surveyed his surroundings. Those are things, without reminding yourself to stop and do, I would have never seen at a granular, intimate level.

Opportunities come and go. If they pass you by, there will always be another one. But no matter where you are in your career, and even life, stop for a second (or two) to appreciate what you’ve accomplished, be mindful of the tiniest details of the present and stop worrying about the what’s next.

Evan and I never did get a butterfly that day. There’s always this weekend. Instead, that day I got the important reminder to take the time to appreciate and focus, even if it’s only a couple minutes. You never know what you’ll see.

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