In our post about Georgia O’Keeffe, we talked about how, through her paintings, the artist tried to get us to to pay attention and really “see” things in a new way. Certainly O’Keeffe herself was a keen observer of her surroundings.
Me, however? Not so much. My powers of (non) observation are legendary. Often Stevie will start to ask me, “Did you see…” or “Have you noticed…” only to stop herself in mid-sentence. “No, of course, you didn’t,” she’ll say with resignation. She knows.
“Oblivious” was the parting shot of more than one former boyfriend…
So, this is an activity I came across, and have been working on myself. It’s easy, but can be interesting, especially if you are (like me) the kind of person who sometimes “comes to” while driving and realizes you don’t remember the last 30 miles. Or suddenly sees a new building along the route you commute every day, and hadn’t even realized there was anything under construction. Hopefully, your condition is not as serious as mine (it’s difficult to imagine that it could be!), but you may still find this exercise helpful.
All you do is—occasionally, for a period of just a few minutes or so—narrate what you are observing or experiencing as you are driving or walking along. You can do it out loud or to yourself silently (see note below), but the main thing is that you look for all the details—big and small. You may want to imagine that you are describing the scene to someone who has never been there before, or who will try to draw it based on your description. I guarantee you will notice things you never did before.
Note: I highly recommend the silent—to yourself—version of this exercise if you try it while carpooling—and particularly if your passengers happen to be middle schoolers. I’m just sayin’…
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