Have you ever noticed something for the first time in a place you’ve been daily and wondered how you’ve never seen it before? Most of us can probably answer yes to this question.
Focus, or concentration, is something we consider important, especially in work settings, but can it also be hindering us? As we go through our day-to-day lives, we are missing the world happening all around us. What happens if we broaden our perception?
Alexandra Horowitz wrote On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes after she noticed how much she wasn’t seeing on her own block. The book details eleven walks around her block in New York City with ten diverse “experts” to see what they experience. “Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator,” she commented.
Her walking partners included her young child, a reconstructionist artist, a typographer, a geologist, a field naturalist, a wildlife scientist, a medical doctor, a blind world traveler, a sound designer, and finally, her dog.
Indeed, all of her companions pointed out different features of that same block. The doctor could give out diagnoses based on the way in which passers-by walked; the typographer made her aware of all the billboards she was reading; her last three accompaniers emphasized senses other than sight.
She summed up her new insight by saying, “Together, we became investigators of the ordinary, considering the block—the street and everything on it—as a living being that could be observed. In this way, the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and the old the new.”
Horowitz isn’t the only person noticing how little they notice. Jeff Goins wrote a blog post on slowing down to “smell the roses” and challenged himself and his readers to do just that. “Right now is the only time you will ever have. So it has to be the best — because it’s all you get. Better make the most of it,” he advises.
Try stepping out of your habits of perception — discover the unknown.
Posted by Katelyn Turner