The discipline(s) of noticing…

As you would know if you’ve visited my little home on the web before, I have recently started taking mobile photography just a little more seriously than I did in the past. In particular, I’ve started using my phone as a way of recording the things that stand out to me in my everyday ways of being. I don’t use this when I’m specifically going out to take photos – I have far more versatile (and expensive!) camera equipment for that purpose, and that way of thinking. The phone is for incidentals. And that got me thinking, about the very nature of incidentals.

Some time ago, I read the work of a poet and academic named Anne McCrary Sullivan, and specifically her thoughts on the art and science of attention. One line in particular that sticks with me (but as I can’t lay my hands on the original text right now, I’m paraphrasing, quite possibly inaccurately): “I’m a poet / I need details”…

There’s a resonance for me in this comment, and it says something about why I feel compelled to document things, in multiple ways – through my camera lens, through my phone, and sometimes even through words. I don’t think I see the world any differently than anyone else – there’s no hidden meaning or beauty that I feel compelled to share. Rather, for me, it’s about noticing. Attention. There is an art to this – how often do we stop to focus on the details, the things in between the bigger shapes, forms, and patterns that surround us? For me, not as often as I should. But I’m improving. It’s about being attentive, walking around with my eyes open, a continual reminder to focus on the present, to engage in the world that is now, rather than the world that I’m imagining for when I get home, or tomorrow, or on the weekend, or next week, or…

And that’s harder than it sounds. It takes practice. Try it. Find something interesting – just one interesting thing – in the things you see tomorrow. Share that thing, in whatever form you feel suits it best. And share back with me – show me what you notice. Is it easier than you thought, or more difficult? And what have you learnt, about yourself, about noticing, from that experience?

Maybe nothing. But I don’t think it hurts us, not one little bit, to spend some more time connecting and engaging in where we are, what we are, who we are with.

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The discipline(s) of noticing…

2 thoughts on “The discipline(s) of noticing…

  1. Amanda says:

    I love this post TIm. I, too, am trying to notice the little things in life. Your posts are definitely inspiriting and I’m glad you got a phone that can stretch your creativity and the way you see the world. 🙂 I will do a post tomorrow and share with you about the small thing I noticed today.

  2. Andrew says:

    Interesting perspective Tim. I can totally understand where you’re coming from but for me it’s actually the opposite.

    Perhaps, “I’m a poet / I need questions”?

    For me it’s the spaces in an image, ignorance of the detail, and the element of uncertainty or potential that appeal.

    A case of two paths travelled, yet the origin and destination remain common?

    Regardless, I’m still really enjoying your work.

    Andrew.

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