The Desire to be Seen
The other morning, I spent some time in the garden with my daughter. After toddling around the vegetables for a few minutes, she took to building little towers of firewood around the fire pit. And as she made each little creation, she would turn to me and say, “Look mama, I’m making castles. Come see.”
It was so darling, watching her tiny hands make the majestic things she saw inside her head, and I wondered what greatness she saw in her mind’s eye.
I related to her so much in that moment- to her imagination, her desire to create, and her industry. But more than all this, I related to her need to be seen. It wasn’t enough for her to create in a vacuum. The act somehow needed to be witnessed to be made real.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, living in our world so dominated by social media. It’s an interesting time for my daughter to be growing up in, when fame and significance are quantified in such an unprecedented manner. Social media has a way of bringing people together and creating remarkable connections, but it can also leave a person feeling painfully, inconsequentially small.
The propensity towards significance is timeless. The desire to be known is innately human, and I think everyone has the question deep in their heart- Am I seen? And if I am not, do I still matter?
Like my daughter who says, “Mama, come see,” we each want to say to the world, “Look at what I have done. Please bear witness to my offering of greatness.”
I want to believe that each one of us matters, regardless of how many views or likes or shares we receive in the virtual universe. We matter in the same way that hummingbirds matter and fuzzy bees and fluffy dandelions. Our value and worth are innate and immutable because we’re here, because we exist, because God saw fit to bring us into being.
But there is something beautiful and honorable and kind about bearing witness to one another’s greatness, however big or small. We all need to be seen, to have ourselves born witness to. Especially in the moments of deliberation, in those great expanses of loneliness and doubt. And it doesn’t take much for me to say to my daughter, “Yes baby, I see you, and your castles are beautiful.”
The other day, I saw a quote by Buddha that said, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” It really struck me, and it makes me wonder, in the precious time we have, if we could turn to one another and say, “I see you building your castles, and they are beautiful.”
This act feels small, but the truth is that we are sharing our lives together. We are each other’s witnesses, and when we bear witness to one another in an honorable way, the act becomes nothing short of revolutionary.
Here’s to bearing witness to one another’s greatness today.