Saturday, January 16, 2010

Noticing Things

I notice things.  Maybe it's the function of being a writer.  Or maybe I became a writer because I notice things.  :shrug:  Sometimes I think I notice too much.  Sometimes I'd rather not be the one who notices things.

For instance, I noticed this morning that the neighbor's baby is walking.  Not a bad thing, really.  People are usually happy when they see a baby walking.  What I didn't want to notice is it's below freezing and he was walking outside without shoes, a coat or adult supervision.

I live near a funeral home.  I see all the people coming and going to funerals and memorial services.  I notice the bereaved who really cared for the deceased, crying on the sidewalk or consoling each other on the lawn.  I also notice the people who just came because it's a local event and they felt they should make an appearance.

The other day I saw the largest funeral I've seen since I moved to this town almost six years ago.  It was for a drug mule who died when the balloon of coke burst in his stomach.  I noticed more people showed up for him than for my friend who died last spring.  I also noticed that the drug-mule's service seemed more like a party than a place of grief.  And I noticed the man relieving himself in the alley behind my house.

Most days I notice good things.  Last week, I was excited to notice a merlin diving into the shrub beside my house.  The sparrows' twittering brought that one to my attention.  Poor merlin didn't come out with a meal, but he did pose nicely in a nearby tree for a few minutes.  (Too bad none of my pictures came out all that great.  This is the best of them.  He's in the center on the bottom most branch.)

I like to notice nice things - a rainbow, a spectacular sunset, a flock of geese headed west for the winter.  (I know, I know... but I swear they huge flocks I've seen this year are all headed west.)  Yesterday I was happy to see that the old lady on the corner is okay after the night I noticed an ambulance outside her house. Last summer she was always out doing yard work.  I gives me hope that maybe I can be that active when I'm that old.

What I don't want to notice is a kid sticking a candybar in his pocket at the 7-Eleven.  I'd really rather not notice the guy at the gas station with the bad case of body odor and a plumber's crack that would put the Grand Canyon to shame.  I really don't want to notice the truck that flies by twice a day doing 55 in a 20 - especially when the police never seem to see him.  I don't want to see the girl texting while she drives (it's illegal now in CO), or the dog that's so thirsty he's licking dribbles off the pavement, or the people riding with their child buckled onto their lap.  (And I certainly don't want to imagine the worst case scenario for that last one, but I can't help myself.)

But it's not just the stupid things people do.  I'm forever noticing the gross and the grotesque and the just plain tragic.  I don't want to do that anymore.  The old man who lost his lower jaw to cancer.  The little girl with the arm broken so bad, the cast seems too large for such a tiny person.  The guy who rolls past my house every morning on his way to the grocery store... H's missing one leg and both middle fingers.  (Don't ask.  I didn't.)

Some days I feel like the little boy from The World According to Garp - the one who lost an eye and was forever after only seeing the defects in people.

Like I said, I don't know if being a writer makes me notice things more, or if noticing things more is why I write, but I'd really like a vacation from all this.   A brief respite from the ignorance and stupidity, the cruelty and the thoughtlessness, the deliberate viciousness and the rampant ineptitude - that would be nice.

Maybe I'll just go watch Holmes on Homes.  He always seems to put things right.  Maybe this morning his supreme competence will help set things right in my head, so I can go back to noticing the happy things again.

What about you?  Do you think you notice things more because you write or do you think it's the other way around?


  1. I'm sorry you notice everything. My mum and I are the same way.

    It's just heartbreaking to see so much bad in the world.

  2. I don't know. I think I only notice certain things. Not sure how my brain decides what's important.

  3. I have a tendency to take everything I see in all at once, all the time. I think it is part of why I write and part of why I enjoy reading. To me reading is a way to be able to live something but you don't have to notice everything, you can just see it in your mind and focus n the main points. The plot, the part I wish I were better at concentrating on when it comes to my real life. It is so much easier to do when writing. To just let everything else go away and only notice what you need or want to. So I would have to say I love to write because I notice the details and together with my laptop I am able to choose what they are. Great post!


  4. I notice some things others don't seem to and then tend to miss obvious things and it annoys me that I have missed them.

  5. Unfortunately, I noticed the good, the bad and the ugly well before I realized I was a writer. I think it is human nature.

    Society as a whole focuses on all things negative. There is seldom positive news in the media. As a matter of fact, it seems the worse a man's offense, the more publicity it gets. People thrive on sensationalism.

    Personally, I think there is more beauty in the world than ugliness, people just refuse to see it.