What We Notice

Have you ever gone for a walk, in a forest or a city, and when coming back (perhaps a bit lost) you notice some little thing that you’d observed before and realize where you are? Not a landmark, not something you regarded with intent, just a random image. It could be the swirl of bark on a tree or a mark on a wall or some incidental thing you saw that then you remember seeing, albeit small or obscure? Have you noticed such noticing?

When I talk to students about the Agricultural Revolution I often give credit to women for their perspicacity (albeit “hunter/gatherer” as male/female designations is likely sexist). But it could be that some gatherer (woman?), having spilt some gatherings/seeds on the way back to the cave, noticed that they had sprouted, thus farming began? (Such chances favour the prepared mind!)

Then there’s all that stuff about what crime witnesses see or think they see, about what trained agents of espionage perceive, about football quarterbacks, hunters, naturalists, painters, and children. Noticing is an art and a science. And it’s something that photographers or smart phone-packing vagabonds do from time to time, pausing to document the noticed. Children are experts (notice the novice!).

Meditate on meditation. Strike a pose, close your eyes, breathe deep the gathering non-awareness, but then you notice that lil’ itch, or a sound, tight underwear, a bug, or a thought like worm boring through your aspirations of nirvana. Focus your inattention. Just breathe, just concentrate on the breathing… Or, concentrate on the itch, the sound, the distraction. Maybe that is what the universe wants you to notice?

When traveling, should we just concentrate on the beauty, the culture, taste the food, hear the music, and not notice the trash, the filth, and the poverty? Maybe we notice what we should, even though we wonder about those who seem not to? What you notice is your truth, signs on your road of life. Heed them, and perhaps they will guide you to where you should be going?

Study Questions:

  1. Did you relate to that at all? If so, how?
  2. What did you notice today? What might you not have noticed?
  3. What should people notice? Why?

4 thoughts on “What We Notice

  1. Two India-related items in regards to your metaphysical meanderings: 1. Now is the time for you to be a sponge. (Mainly C & V.) – You are positioned to absorb all the data and experience without analysing. Know this will squeeze out into meaning all the rest of your life. It will make sense then, not necessarily now. 2. Trash and litter looks pretty bad to Western eyes, it is a BIG Indian issue! What policies are being put in place that you see?


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