Interior with poppies and reading woman by Lizzy Hohlenberg, 1905
This picture comforts me. Not sure why, it just does. I hung it over the doorway opposite my desk where it collects dust and cobwebs because I fail to notice I’ve failed to notice it’s even there. Isn’t that how it is with most things? We get so used to seeing something we don’t even see it anymore. I guess my deep thought for the day concerns the importance of ‘observation’. Paying attention. Looking for patterns we fail to notice because they have become part of the woodwork framing our lives.
R.D. Laing is credited with a quote that sits next to my computer. It’s on a wooden block with other favorite quotes which are rotated from time to time to make sure I notice they’re there.
He wrote, “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice and because we fail to notice what we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and desires.” ~R.D. Laing
I’ve been absent from my blog for a couple of weeks, even though my butt has been glued to my computer chair! For several years now, I’ve threatened building a website about narcissism, hoping to reach people before they get hurt. Learning about narcissism before the inevitable harm rarely happens. Unfortunately. Usually, we can’t believe someone will be as bad as they were in the past until they knock us to our knees, rob us blind, steal our bank accounts, our hearts, our minds, and our integrity. We failed to notice we were failing to notice the pattern to their badness. There’s a pattern to our behavior too which like the lovely painting over my doorway, might be even harder to notice when our thoughts and desires are covered in cobwebs and dust.
The new website should be finished in a few weeks unless I run into technical problems that are basically unpredictable because I don’t know what I don’t know until I know I don’t know it; then I know who to turn to: my son. The programming genius. That’s not an exaggeration. He really is. Topping off his intellectual genius, he’s also a kind, humble and compassionate person. He tells me his niceness is why he’s single. He says the nicest girls in the world always fall for the baddest guys in the world. “Like you, Mom. What makes nice girls fall for bad guys, anyway?”
“Maybe, kiddo,” I explain, “it’s because nice girls fail to notice that they’ve failed to notice how marvelously amazing it is to be kind. We also fail to notice that those exciting guys will continue to be exciting—as in leaving a girls stranded, broken, and broke.”
I console him saying he’ll meet a nice girl someday who will appreciate a chubby computer programmer who’s biggest thrill is finding the ‘bug’ in a million lines of code. One day, a woman in his workplace will look up and realize she failed to notice that consistently kind man who’s reliable, honest, respectful, ambitious, identifies with Knights of the Old Republic, and is slightly boring which makes him a safe partner. Why? Because that is the way he’s always been.
The best indicator of someone's behavior in the future is their behavior in the past.
Speaking of failing to notice, though: I worked on a perfect image for the new Web of Narcissism website. Photoshop has become another passionate interest. Not that I’m very good at it yet since Photoshopping is a ‘skill’ .
So yesterday, I got out my Photoshop textbook and put a beautiful border around the perfect image I found after surfing the cyberseas for forty days and forty nights. I measured a damask border as precisely as my old eyes can manage, including a perfect drop shadow around the frame for a three-dimensional effect. I carefully sized the pixels to fit the new webpage, even making three alternative sizes that would work within space limitations. Then I uploaded three sizes to my Photobucket account (by the way, I love Photobucket as much as Photoshop so if you don’t have a Photobucket account, you might want to take a look at what they offer for ‘free’.)
After uploading three different sizes uniquely bordered to enhance the image AND coordinate with the new website's background colors, I uploaded each size on my new website. I picked the size that seemed 'right' to me and then? And then I noticed that I had failed to notice a handful of tourists in the trees and three tourists posed next to the castle and two tourists meandering along the fortress wall. How could I not notice the tourists after being meticulously anal about the border dimension and drop shadow opacity?
Sometimes we are so focused on the big picture, you see, we fail to notice the details.
At first I thought maybe the little touristas weren't a problem because of the work required getting rid of them. I had already invested three hours working on the image so it looked ‘just right’. It’s hard to admit making a foolish mistake and then starting over; it’s easy to justify living with a mistake to protect your ego. “Maybe people won’t notice!” crossed my mind. However, I know myself well enough to predict my future reactions. I’d look at that picture and instead of seeing the lovely border, all I’d see was my mistake and ya know, it takes too much precious energy to keep lying to myself about having failed to notice that I had failed to notice the tourists. Or lying to myself and saying, I subconsciously wanted the touristas in the background.
Three hours of the July 4th holiday were a ‘sunk cost’. I deleted the images and started over, laughing the whole time about failing to notice what was right in front of my eyes. Kinda like my marriage when I focused on the big picture and failed to notice he was a tourist.
Sometimes you just have to marvel that some of us big-picture-folks miss seeing the trees because well, because all we see is the beauty of the forest.