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The WordPress Weekly Writing challenge drew me in this week.

They ask us to “find inspiration in fifty words. Use a fellow blogger’s response to a previous challenge, “Fifty,” as a springboard for this week’s post.”

My inspiration?

Gazing at the quaint street below, Nick watches couples come and go. Kids are playing with a soccer ball. He remembers the flea market open for the weekend in Long Island City. He lazily says “We should go.”

Nick turns toward the empty bed. He remembers now, that she’s gone.

– Regret, from A Lady in Waiting

I’m a people watcher from way back.

Heck!  I use to do it professionally.

That’s me there, on the lifeguard chair.

That's me on the chair; guarding the beach at H.O.P.E. Volleyball tournament  - a large annual tournament held each year at Mooney's Bay in Ottawa

That’s me on the chair; guarding the beach at H.O.P.E. Volleyball tournament – a large annual tournament held each year at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa

While not the origin of my enjoyment at watching those around me, lifeguarding is certainly where I got to hone my observational abilities.  Because aside from yanking the odd non-swimmer out of the water every couple of years, or lecturing kids about diving in the shallow end or throwing sand, that’s what you do.

It’s with an eye to preventing injury, but you also get to just …. watch life.

As an introvert – and someone who wants to be sure of a situation before diving in (so to speak) – I’ve always done it.

In childhood years, I studied others for tips on how to “be”.  To figure out “what flew” and “what didn’t”.  To figure out my place in the world.

In my teens, I started watching to figure out why people did what they did.  Why certain girls were so unnecessarily mean to each other.  How some people managed to create their own problems.  How some people were just … awkward, and others weren’t.  How some people challenged authority intelligently and others … didn’t.  How some people were plainly different from me – and how that is better than okay and what make the world the wonderfully interesting place it is.

Now? While it happens rarely, I still love me a good “people watching” session.

Last Friday night, I sat, unexpectedly, with two friends on a downtown rooftop patio and got to quietly – for a couple of minutes before we moved on – watch the Friday night crowds walking by below, having fun.

Yesterday, on Canada Day, I brought my girls downtown and got to watch both the revelers and parades – and how my daughters took the whole thing in.

I love, when I’m on the bus or in a café, and happen to spot a young couple newly in love, or a child exploring the world with the wonder only they can seem to maintain.

In my twenties, I loved travelling to see the world as I generally don’t.

Today, I partly get that same enjoyment through blogging.  Coming across either the kindred spirit or the individual who clearly sees the world as I don’t but in either event describing or showing their world vibrantly – and allowing me to see them and their world – via their blog.

The time spent exploring new blogs – surfing to see what is out there – at times feels very similar to sitting on that guard chair, or perhaps being like Nick at the window – gazing out to observe, take in, or react as required, to what the world is going to offer.

Unlike Nick, I don’t want to finish my window-gazing only to turn back and realize I’ve missed time spent with those who matter most.  While looking outward, I don’t want to overlook what’s right here.

Tonight, we stretched out bedtime for our 4 and almost 2-year-old by a good 45 minutes so my 4-year-old could watch the Lego Friends episode one last time to try to master the dance (she’s determined, and we’re going to practice again tomorrow) and so we could all then sit on the porch together to watch the rainstorm that just came in and listen to the thunder.  We sat there warm and dry as my eldest pointed out how the different sounds – rain on the roof, from the drain pipe, thunder, the stomping of boots, all sounded like a song together.

My youngest – all riled up from the evening – took an extra bit to settle down – and finally wouldn’t calm until she joined her older sister in her bed for a “slumber party”.

I just checked.  They’re both now happily snuggled down asleep.

The world out there? Carries on without me.  I’ll be sure to enjoy it, watch it, participate in it, as I can.  And seize and appreciate those moments to the fullest when they come.  Like random Friday nights on a rooftop patio.

But only after I’ve made sure to catch the rainstorm with those I most love and who most love me.

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