The World Still Holds These Details
“Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you.
By marshaling your attention to these words, helpfully framed in a distinct border of white, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of information that continues to bombard all of your senses: the hum of the fluorescent lights, the ambient noise in a large room, the places your chair presses against your legs or back, your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, the tension you are holding in your shoulders or jaw, the map of the cool and warm places on your body, the constant hum of traffic or a distant lawn-mower, the blurred view of your own shoulders and torso in your peripheral vision, a chirp of a bug or whine of a kitchen appliance.
(…) Part of normal human development is learning to notice less than we are able to. The world is awash in details of color, form, sound — but to function, we have to ignore some of it. The world still holds these details.” -Horowitz (http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/08/12/on-looking-eleven-walks-with-expert-eyes/)
A few weeks ago, I was in the garden of a friend in the mountains having a conversation with another friend. He made me stop talking in the middle of a heated debate to challenge me at counting the different sounds around us and at guessing what they were (he was probably trying to gear the attention away from the debate) (and it worked). And so we spent at least ten minutes alternating complete silence with analysis of the sounds. I must admit, those were very weird ten minutes. But quite fun nonetheless.
We would gain a lot by switching on our curious eyes in familiar places. The eyes that usually function only when we travel, the ones that notice small details, question, analyze and realize.