When was the last time you noticed something?

A moment when you stopped, even for a split second, and saw whatever it was?

Was it a car inching too closely to you in a crosswalk? A bright light that made you squint. Or the way smile lines wrinkle around the eyes of someone you love.

Did it happen when you were with others? Maybe over a cheers during dinner with friends, or with your lover. Or maybe when you were waiting in line.

Did it come from pain? Fear? Love? A touch? Is it a memory?

A sign for ice on a hot day somewhere along the A1A scenic route in Florida.
A sign for ice on a hot day somewhere along the A1A scenic route in Florida.

My first true act of noticing was, in fact, what led me to where I am now. I was a teenager, and I saw a photo taken by a famous photojournalist in a museum. The photo, famous in its own right, depicts the exact moment a soldier is shot. It's grainy, dramatic, vague. When you look at it, you don't really know what's going on. People still aren't entirely sure of the story behind it. I didn't – still don't – know what about the photo halted me, but when it did, I realized I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted to make people stop. I wanted people to notice.

A window ajar in the Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá.
A window ajar in the Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá, Colombia.

So I became a journalist. I've trained and worked in the industry for more than 10 years, becoming, at different times, addicted to and repulsed by journalism's ceaseless searching. And in the nature of things like this, my original dream to just see became clouded by a fruitless search for something, whatever, anything that came next. Because that's what journalists do – we finish, and move on.

The searching was maddening. I'd constantly ask myself, why am I doing this?

As the chaotic year of 2020 unfolded, I started asking myself that same question more and more. At some point, I started to think about that photo in the museum again. And I realized what I wanted wasn't more searching, more yearning, more reaching for things I knew I didn't want.

What I wanted was to stop, and to notice.

A tire swing hangs steady in a yard in DeLand, Florida.
A tire swing hangs steady in a yard in DeLand, Florida. 

Because noticing is really all that matters, right? Think about it.

When was the last time you really felt noticed? When you really felt seen?

Was it someone asking you how you are – and really wanting to know? A steady glance across the bar? An unexpected phone call?

Did it come from pain? Fear? Love? A touch? Is it a memory?

We all want to be noticed – by a lover, by a parent, by a crowd, by whoever. And we don't realize how much we want it until it happens.

This is why I started Parallels – I wanted to create a sacred space for noticing. So that in noticing others, we might just notice ourselves, too.

–A.W.