Mid-May 2021 Newsletter
Hello, and a magical magnificent Mid-May to you!
Noticing and naming
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue is about noticing and naming.
When young children start learning to understand language, they want labels to help identify what they see, or hear, or touch. That's a ball
and that's a block, their mother might say, indicating a particular toy. Or looking out the window, that's a bird and that's a cat. This natural
practice expands to naming parts of known objects, like the dog's ear or tail or wet nose.
This simple method, which can feel like a fun game to children, helps us make sense of our world, and to know what's safe and what's a possible danger. It's also a necessary part of growing.
There's that lady who always smiles at me and gives me a cookie (I can relax more now). There's that grumpy guy who acts like kids are a big bother
(I'm on my guard now not to do anything annoying which might set him off).
Yet think how fascinated we can become, if we can't immediately identify something or someone, or put it or them in a known and understood category.
We explore more, trying to decide what it is. What does it remind us of? Does it seem scary, or intriguing, or only benign and ordinary, like a piece of dirt?
Is it uncomfortable for you to stay in the not-knowing, and not rush to label something new, like a scientist methodically doing research?
As in the picture above, we can refuse to notice, let alone name, something big right in front of our eyes. Being stubbornly in denial about a health or financial problem,
or about a troubled relationship, won't let it start to improve. Instead ignoring a major difficulty most likely will lead to it getting worse. This "There's nothing to see here!"
pattern is the opposite of rushing to prematurely identify something, and maybe overlooking key data. Neither way is optimal.
As a vision teacher and someone who continues to improve her own eyesight, I regularly practice seeing details more clearly using an eye chart. I'll guess what a blurry letter is and
then continue gently scanning over it. If I guessed wrong it will get more blurry. If I guessed correctly, the letter will get clearer and darker. If I can resist identifying it and
jumping ahead to other letters (so pleased with myself I got the right answer!), I might notice even more, the corners, the curves, the serif or tail at the end of a long stroke.
Back to the inspector picture at the top of this article: ideally he won't rush to label what he observes. He'll take his time and notice and investigate, only classifying once he's
satisfied he's explored thoroughly enough. As Alan Alda says above, don't assume, or you could be missing something important. Take your time to view your environment, taking in the details
to paint yourself a full rich picture of it so you have a more complete understanding. Life and people are so complex, and so rewarding to connect with. The more you look, the more you'll see!
For an article on practicing with the eye chart in creative ways beyond "that's an E, that's a C...",
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Enjoy the second half of this marvelous month of May.
I'll write again in a few weeks. Take care!