The other day, I was sitting and chatting with a new friend – an art impresario – and listening to her story about how she discovered her latest artist. She used a charming, somewhat old fashioned, almost European phrase three times in as many sentences and I was suddenly struck with how unexpectedly wise that turn of phrase was.
It was a simple and common enough two word phrase: “took notice”.
Not “I noticed” but rather, “I took notice”. “I noticed” is passive, as in something drifted by your consciousness, and it registered there, however lightly. “Taking” notice, is active, as in paying attention, more intensely, more insistently. You sit up and take notice. You don’t just observe: you examine, you query, you internalize, you grapple, you engage.
And then I thought about another phrase with the word “take” in it: “take pleasure”. Again, a bit old fashioned, but there was something there. Mere pleasure is something that happens to you. But when you “take pleasure”, it’s active, intense, intentional. You clock that you’re experiencing pleasure, feel for its outer limits and greatest depths, and extend the pleasure, remembering it long after the moment passes.
And then there’s “take a liking to”. And “taking delight”. And “taking time” to do something. Not just like. Not just being delighted. Not just doing. You get the idea.
Just thinking about it makes me feel more alive, more energized, more connected, more buzzy.
But taking has a tougher connotation too. Taking is assertive, demanding, insistent. Taking requires you to have a sense of what you want, to have some standards, to discriminate. So take notice of what matters. Take pleasure or delight in something that deserves it. Take your pleasure, as Charles Eames said, seriously. Then let go of the rest.
Giving is lovely, of course. But I’m going to start taking a little more.