So James and I were in the car and he said, ‘Could we pop into that bike shop in Tiverton?’ and I said, ‘Which one? The one down…?’ and then we got into a long and exceedingly boring exchange in which we tried to pin down the location of said bike shop, along the lines of: ‘So if you’re standing outside Smith's and turn left then…’
‘Okay, so if you’re coming up the other way from Tesco…’
And so on and so forth. Anyhow… after we had eventually established the precise spot…
Nah,’ said James. ‘That one shut a couple of years ago.’
Well, stone the crows.
‘So which one? And where is it?’ I asked, negotiating the one-way system.
‘It’s opposite Heathcoat's.’
‘Huh? There aren’t any shops opposite Heathcoat's.’
‘Yes, there is.’
And, er, yes there is. Because there it was. A great big shop with THE BIKE SHOP in huge letters on it. And a banner. And everything.
I had never ever ever seen it. Despite driving it past it probably once or twice a week. Or, more accurately, I have seen it; I just haven’t noticed it. And it made me think how funny it is that we are so selective in our seeing, our noticing. We only see the things that matter to us; that are of interest to us. So Adrian’s world, for example, is constellated by pubs. My father’s was exactly the same. I, on the other hand, barely notice them. What do I notice? By what do I navigate? Well, I don’t really – I tend to get lost.
‘You just don’t notice anything,’ said James.
‘Not true,’ I said. ‘I’m the same as anyone. I notice things that interest me. Just like you.’
‘Nah. I notice everything.’ And he went on to list the businesses one would pass when walking into town from Tesco.
‘Hmm,’ I said. ‘You missed the antique shop. The beauty/therapy place. The delicatessen and the craft/gift shop.’
‘What antique shop?’
‘There you go.’
‘But who cares about antiques?’
‘Evidently not you. Now do you see?’
It’s the same with people. How often do we really notice what’s going on? How often do we really see them? We don’t see. We don’t listen. We don’t notice. We’re too wrapped up in our own selves – when we see people we mainly see our own projections.
And that made me think about television. About Grey’s Anatomy. I know, I know. Feel free to judge. But hey, even The Walking Dead has turned into a hospital drama now.
Anyhow…sitting there on the sofa by the fire it’s all so easy to see. We the viewers know Teddy (Teddy????) is in love with Hunt because the camera makes it pretty damn obvious. Just as we can see all too clearly that the guy whose wife got turned off life support and who was more than a bit pissed off to be told that the decision had taken ‘less than a minute’ was going to implode in some way, shape or form. But nobody else did. Because it can be hard, when you’re in the middle of living, to notice. We’re not Olympians – we don’t have that overview. Anyhow…oh why am I going on with this? Bottom line, sometimes you don’t notice things until it’s too late and by the time you do, you’re shacked up with Yang or half your friends are lying in pools of blood. Wait….no…yes…that is Grey’s Anatomy and not The Walking Dead. Heck, all these TV shows are merging into one. I really need to get a life, huh?
Anyhow, the personal aspect is a whole different Game of Thrones. Where was I going before I got Lost back there? Oh yes. Things we don’t see. What are we missing? Remember that old story about how when Columbus arrived in the Caribbean the local people couldn’t see the ships because they had no visual reference for a ship. All they could notice was the effect the ships had on the water – the wave effect.
Perception. Only seeing our own reality. Have you ever looked at those 2D worlds? Things like Flatland?
How a 3D object would make no sense to creatures living in 2D? And of course that makes one wonder about what we aren’t seeing? What is wandering around and through us all the time? So I started watching some vids on YouTube trying to find one for you (and me) that explained dimensions nice and clearly but I got lost in string theory and conspiracy theories and, for the love of all dimensions, five hour films on Satanism in the Music Industry and so on and so forth. But, anyhow…
Maybe we could just widen our eyes a little. Maybe we could pay a little more attention (how much would it cost?). Maybe we could all make an effort to notice one new thing a day? Not just the things that are right in front of us, but those that are peripheral, off to the side. Those things that are dancing at the edge of the corner of the eye? Perhaps then, we could train ourselves to see the unseeable?