8:18
For today’s exercise in random association, I will attempt to connect logo design, classic black gospel music and a box full of jewels. Ready?

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January 28, 2018
Using the overhang at the entrance of the hotel to shield us from the rain, my grandson and I are watching the skies intently. We strain to see movement or hear distant honking.
As I stand in the middle of a wide field, the morning sun glints off the frosted blades of grass as if the turf is strewn with diamonds. Is this what I am to notice today?
When I take this shot, I don’t notice the diner light perfectly placed over the head of my friend Tim, hovering like a UFO. Or a glowing megaphone from heaven. Only later will I see it in the photo.
I like fog, when I’m not driving in it. For someone who seeks new angles on the familiar world, fog is like a Magical Mystery Tour. Looking outside, I see the ghosted landscape, grab my camera and jump in the car.
In front of me, the president of the large university my daughter will attend in the fall is speaking. But in my 8:18 moment of observation, I notice something else. An exit sign.
As I sit at my art table in my studio, I can see a tree across the street. By my calculations, I have viewed it roughly 14,000 times in the two decades we’ve lived here. And only today am I noticing its strangeness.

Enormity

January 19, 2018
The highway in front of me tonight is a dark seam through gray snow. Stars burn coldly in the black above. And I am feeling small.
It is afternoon and in a German hotel, where I am working in a corporate session, they have given rocks to snack on. Sorry, I exaggerate: pebbles. In a bowl.
My phone, apparently suffering from jet lag, reminds me to notice as I’m sitting on a train at 2:18, on my way to a castle. But it’s no ordinary ruin. I expect to unearth memories.
I am high over Western Europe when today’s moment of observation arrives. The sun floats radiant over a Berber carpet of clouds. How can anything be so beautiful?
My plan had been to interrupt my breakfast with Mike at 8:18 and have us both play What Do I See? But we are deep in conversation when the time arrives. I hold the thought.
I am prepared for my first trip of the year. At 8:18 this morning, I am strapping into my car and heading out on a highway so familiar, I could probably narrate the drive with my eyes closed.
I am thinking about journeys. I see the pile of boxes in the hall, one of the many that emerged from yesterday’s de-cluttering, and I wonder how we’ll ever transition to a smaller house, when that day comes.
There will be days when the object of my prayerful attention will be a subtle thing – a slight movement, an overheard word, the surprise of color. This was not one of those days.

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