Friday, May 25, 2012

Reflections: Overlooking the Familar

Today's exercise: Pick a color and find it - really search for it - around you. Once you've got a color, do the following: Stop and look. Look again. Now really look. Repeat. Miss anything the first time you looked? The second time? It's not as easy as you think, is it?
Around Our Home: Brown on the Kitchen Counter
I repeated this exercise over the course of three days with the color brown, taking photographs of every brown item I saw. In my first look at a room or a space, I noticed that I often overlooked brown items that were sitting just outside the frame. For example, my favorite mixing bowl, which holds fruit or vegetables, sits on the kitchen counter NEXT to our coffee grinder. I didn't notice that I hadn't taken a photograph of it until the THIRD day even though I'd been regularly taking vegetables from it. I then wondered:
How often do we go through our surroundings on autopilot,
without really noticing characteristics?
When we read text, we often overlook missing words, filling them in as we read. An editor once taught me a couple of tricks for editing my own work:
  1. Read your writing backwards, word by word to catch typos.
  2. Read your writing backwards a second time, sentence by sentence to catch incorrect (you're versus your, its versus it's, hear versus here, and so on) and/or missing words.
Going forward I'll be routinely picking colors and objects to actively look for each day to keep me from operating on autopilot.
What are your tricks for truly observing your surroundings and avoiding autopilot operation?
Ciao Bella!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.