The first thing I didn’t notice…
May 12, 2011 § 18 Comments
I made coffee without noticing–some things are automatic–then booted up the computer. The internet opened to the AOL home page, but I did not notice which star had a.) been sent to rehab or b.) had plastic surgery to some personal body part or c.) was sharing the intimate details of a messy break-up.
I also didn’t notice the one super-simple trick to reduce belly fat (discovered by a mother which is sure proof of its value). Any simple yet miraculous trick worth its salt will show up on the tabloids which I can scan at my leisure while standing in line at the grocery store.
Walking with my dog, Moo, while deeply preoccupied with a scene in the story I was writing, I didn’t notice the street we were on until a loud thud returned me to the nonfiction world.
Overcome with ecstasy, Moo was kicking her legs and thrashing from side to side, her mouth agape in a grin so wide it was clear that nothing had ever felt as good as this roll in the grass.
I looked around, and the light catching in the tops of the pines took my breath away. I matched Moo’s ecstatic appreciation of the day for half a block, then began a mental grocery list.
The next thing I didn’t notice was the suspicious lump in the patch of sand beside the road. The cat poop (aka dog treat) was gone by the time it registered—my brain having once again misplaced the beautiful day I was walking through to turn its attention to our lack of butter, oranges and coffee. The ever-present Moo grinned again.
Back home I suffered from an earlier failure to notice. Where the heck did I put my eyeglasses? Dang! I always put them either here…or…there. I shuttled back and forth between here…and…there several times. The outcome remained the same. Then I walked by a mirror and discovered why my bangs were doing such a good job of staying out of my eyes. (Fashion tip: in a pinch eyeglasses make a decent headband).
After lunch I gave myself one of those memory tests which are supposed to ensure a sharp-minded old age. I call it the what-am-I-wearing test, and it is administered like this: don’t look down, now, what clothes do I have on? Even though I had definitely dressed myself this morning I flunked–although I gave myself partial credit. When I did look down the outfit seemed familiar.
Picking up the ingredients on my mental shopping list (except the butter which I forgot), I didn’t notice I was singing loudly until I did notice the other Publix shoppers actively not noticing me, and steering their carts wide around me.
I didn’t notice the photographs displayed all around my house until I lay down for an afternoon rest. Seeing the photo of my father that sits on the shelf beside the bed my eyes stung. The present moment, which is always tenuous, was gone, replaced by the one immediately after his death. I could not remember getting dressed this morning but that four-year-old loss remained fresh.
In the late afternoon I realized that I had, once again, not noticed all those I loved who lived far away, so I paused long enough to make them a promise of a call, a letter, an email. Tomorrow, definitely tomorrow. From a distance tomorrow looked more manageable than today.
I didn’t notice the millipede hiding in the leaf litter behind our azalea bushes, or the wren building a messy nest on our porch, except in passing—nor did they notice me. Each of us was on our own urgent mission.
All day long my breath circled in and out unnoticed. My heart beat, steadily going about its business without my help or appreciation.
All day long I ignored the sun’s slow progress up one side of the sky and down the other until it had nearly set. Then I felt sad because, in my carelessness, I had missed something I could never get back.
Tomorrow I will get up and not notice it all again, so I want to ask this beautiful and constant universe in advance to forgive my stumbling human blindness and to thank it for revealing its quiet magnificence whenever I do take the time to notice.
And if I owe you a phone call or a letter you will definitely hear from me tomorrow.
This promise is well-meant, but provisional. By then, tomorrow will be today, and today is always a chancy proposition.