I was working on an art piece recently and found myself so focused on the finished product, I didn’t pay attention to the details along the way. The result was a piece that didn’t come remotely close to match my intention, all because I was focused on the product and not the process. I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m about halfway through reading Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in which an autistic teenager attempts to solve the mystery of a murdered pet. In one passage, the protagonist reflects on the nature of details and how most people fail to notice them:
- I am standing in a field that is full of grass.
- There are some cows in the fields.
- It is sunny with a few clouds.
- There are some flowers in the grass.
- There is a village in the distance.
- There is a fence at the edge of the field and it has a gate in it.
And then they would stop noticing anything because they would be thinking something else, like “Oh, it is very beautiful here,” or “I’m worried that I might have left gas cooker on,” or “I wonder if Julie has given birth yet.”
Cell phones and computers on make this worse. As companies are competing to occupy space in our brains, we’re texting while talking on the phone, sending emails in meetings, and scrolling through Instagram while watching Netflix. No one stops to do one thing at a time. No one pays attention.