What I Fail to Notice

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery.”

–H.G. Wells

Make a list: The top ten things I most often fail to notice. Be as specific as you can. Then choose one of the items on your list and write about it.


  1. Jean West says

    The world beyond my fingertips is blurry unless I am wearing corrective lenses, but that still doesn’t explain my chronic inability to note eye color. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’ve only met a person casually or have known them for years. I can tell you their favorite ice cream, the name of their ex-sister-in-laws, and the funniest question they’ve asked me—just don’t ask me the color of their eyes. I’m not color blind, so I can’t fall on that for an excuse. I suppose I could blame growing up watching black and white television and old films, but the world was “in living color” around me, so that excuse is just as feeble. There are a few exceptions, of course. Meg Foster’s extraordinary eyes captivated me the first time I saw her perform in WGBH’s production of the Scarlet Letter. Just don’t ask me the color of Katharine Hepburn’s eyes, even though she’s my favorite actress, because I wouldn’t know without going to Google Images. I’ve thought about my blind spot to eye color and I may have an explanation. Some time ago, I took the Myers-Briggs tests and it pegged me as an intuitive, one who does not process information as much from their five senses as through the abstract. That has always made sense since I typically see the forest but not the trees; when I taught, I had to count my students and figure out who was missing since I invariably “saw” everyone there. As a writer, it’s a bit of a problem. I don’t tend to “see” my characters’ faces all that clearly so I have to keep a “cheat sheet” so I don’t change eye and hair color halfway through the story. I also will find a photo of someone who fits my character, and keep it for reference. Clearly, eye color must not be important in the way I come to know a person compared to their personal narrative. I can’t say that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it helps to know how I’m wired.

    • Heather Odegard says

      It’s really interesting you wrote all of this about eye color because I had not even looked at your post before I posted mine and that was also one of my top ten. I am becoming a teacher too right now and it seems easy to miss the precious details when you have a million things on your mind teaching….hmmm.. I am going to try to be more attentive to this, I think it will help me feel more present with people.

  2. Dianne says

    The brilliant and ever-changing colors of the sunrise often pass me by as I hurry into the gym to fulfill my exercise obligations. I lay in silence on the gym floor stretching my aching muscles and for a brief moment I catch just a glimpse of the changing colors in the sky. I often wonder why I choose to view this beauty through such a small lens. If only I would stop for five minutes, I could enjoy the fresh air and be momentarily transported to a place of calm and serenity. Yet, I take those sunsets for granted and limit myself everyday to just a peek…through the small window of my gym.

  3. Tempered Ashes (my current "nomme de plume") says

    1. myself
    2. my breath
    3. my suffering
    4. my heart
    5. my world
    6. my fear
    7. my laughter
    8. my worth
    9. my glory
    10. my sensitivity

    My worth. I most often fail to notice my worth in this world. I feel I am worthless yet I know I am not. I feel that my life has no meaning yet I know that it does. I feel that the worth that has been placed upon my life has been very small (almost non-existent) yet I know that I am a child of the universe. My sense of self has been destroyed. I do not feel I belong here. I do not understand why I am here. All I can say is that we are all here because we asked for it. We all wanted to come here and so we are here.

    My worth — and lack thereof– has been a source of pain for me for a very long time. I fail to notice it because I do not want to admit to myself or to anyone around me that I actually think I feel worthless. Instead I cover it up with a lot of seemingly brilliant activity to show the world that I am worth something– to show my peers that I can shine and if I can shine then I exist– and if I exist I must be worth some-thing.

    My worth escapes me. My worth as a human being, my worth as a citizen soldier, my worth as a man, as a woman, as a child and as whatever else the world may want me to be. My worth is the attribute that slays dragons and lifts up babies. My worth is the reason I am here… to discover my sense of self-worth– We all have it, we’re just not willing to use it because it scares us. We are not afraid of the dark, we are afraid of the light. We are not afraid to fail, we are afraid that if we succeed, we will have nothing more to give, to receive, or even to need. We will fulfill every destiny, every avenue, every course. We do not have to struggle and we do not have to dream. It is already here– we just need to reach out and, as they say… grab hold…

    And by “We,” I, of course, mean we… I’m not talking to you or to me or to anyone else. I’m talking about all of us.

    And until we learn this, We will all fave a failed sense of self-worth that will continue to elude us and continue to trick us into doing the right thing, the wrong thing, the everything. We will continue to fail and to succeed; we will continue to know and not know; we will fail to see that we are only as much as the universe will allow us to be. And so far we have done a horrible job of failing to see that the universe has given us so much. The universe has given us its last breath and it has driven us mad at the same time. I know this isn’t making much sense but I guess I’m finally taking a risk. I sound so “high-falutent” sometimes, but it’s only because i’m channeling my soul to recognize my own self– as we all are.

    So, I guess the miracle in my life and in my moments is my worth. I am discovering that I may (may) be worth something after all. And if I am worth something, then I no longer have anything to prove to anyone. And if I am worth something, I am a self-sustained building that will never crumble. And if I am worth something, the world is at my fingertips…as they say. We are all worth something– A LOT actually, we just don’t know it yet. I hope someday we will– because on that day all the wars will end and man will no longer struggle.

    Thank you worth– you have shown me a lot– and I am eternally grateful.

    Much love,

    • Mary Ann Young Robinson says

      Your topic could certainly be explored in depth….your heart has to be filled with love, when it is empty or below the healthy line, it takes on an eerie disgust with life…I pray your journey will be enhanced…I struggle also, even with love in my heart, sometimes others steal it.

  4. Elizabeth Zanzinger says

    I noticed you were gone

    There are bits of free time and space that I never noticed when I was with him. Time to sit and think. About what I have done, what I should do, others, nothing, anything or God. There is space around me in this apartment. The things I have are placed exactly where I want them now. There is no hesitation about what I am doing, or saying or thinking. That umbrella I held on to for so long, of his sharp wit, protection and judgment is no longer hovering over me. That cloud of doubt, unease and conviction that his umbrella tried to block from my view is no longer haunting me. There is only warm loving sunshine beaming on me now.
    I had to set him down, take a break, take a breath, let go. I was finally ready. Sick of it all. Sick of us together. There was no more magic, laughter, surprises. Just worry, doubt, and routine. Worry and doubt, everyday from morning till dawn. It outweighed the small, tiny bits of happiness and contentment that sprouted up here and there like pretty flower weeds that tease you. Then you find out they are weeds and you don’t want them anymore. They are still pretty, but not something special. Not something you intentionally wanted in your garden. His love was like that. It was wild and free. But it also too dangerous.
    And I’m not saying you should give up so easily on someone. It takes time to know. It takes time to notice all the wrongs. It takes time for the liquid to drain so you can see what’s solid under the whole thing. And when it was done draining, there was nothing left to hold on to. So I had to let go. What if I had noticed and taken that free space and time that was mine, before I kicked him out. I didn’t know it was mine. And he was not.

    • Heather Odegard says

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this, it really put a lot of my current situation into the words I needed to hear. It really reminds me how similar many of ourhuman experiences are to one another. I feel really supported, thank you.

  5. Heather Odegard says

    Top 10 Things I Fail to REALLY Notice:
    1. The love that is pouring out of the people who hold me close.
    2.The changing color of my eyes and other people’s eyes.
    3. The people on the bus.
    4. The way my feet touch the ground I walk on.
    5. The cars that pass me by and the faces in them.
    6. The kids swimming beside those I teach.
    7. The details of messiness in my car.
    8. The care and precision of the things I buy.
    9. My breathe.
    10. My freedom.

    My freedom is something I have been forgetting about lately. I have realized the confining small boxes I put myself in based on limited expectations and judgments of myself. The people pleasing. The “yes” to everything but the much needed time with me. The non-egoic self, that quits judges and starts loving…for real…again.
    Who claims her independence and stands up for her needs strongly, Who says yes to that little voice inside her that says “more me time.”
    Time to appreciate and be present with those who love me so deeply who I whirl passed as I get caught up in my whirl win ‘no time for me,’ busy life. That is a limit, I can right now set myself free of. There is always time for me. To rejuvinate, be present, be clear minded and being peace into my everystep. I miss this..I have been so caught up in the limitations I think school, work and a relationship bring me. These are all choices I choose to have from a place of freedom! I can change my mind, I can give myself space and freedom of mind. Liberating myself from the harsh judgments that propel my caffeinated monkey mind. I let that go and know I am just right. Here now. Present am I. Free. I will notice my freedom now. Free to make up my reality, free to change what no longer serves. Free to let go. Free to be at peace. Free, Free, FREE, Embracing and then escaping this negative limited reality that does not serve. I can not be defined by tangible little things, like the way I look. No. That’s not for me. I am what I am what I am. and Thank God for that!

      • Heather Odegard says

        Thanks for creating this space! I just found out about it, its going to be really great for me to free myself again through writing. I took a pause on feeling inspired and in a place to write.

  6. Sarah says

    IN order for me to make a list of things I don’t notice I would have to nocite that I don’t notice those things. So I will write about the thing that I’ve been told I don’t notice. And what I’ve noticed about that.
    I’ve been told by a couple of people that I don’t notice my own worth. This led me to notice that I don’t notice my own feelings. Maybe they could be described as the same thing. I’m not sure. But I have noticed that I listen to everyone else and I feel what they are feeling when they talk to me. And when I talk to others they often get angry at what I am saying because apparently i’s something I should be angry about. For example I was describing how my ex-husband used to break my things in anger or pretend to burn me with a lighter. My friend got angry about that and when I asked her why she said it wasn’t right for him to do things like that. An injustice was being done to me and I should feel angry. Now I know those at those things weren’t right but I never noticed if I was angry or hurt by these things. Now I am not sure if I am angry because my friend was or because I should be. She had said that my not feeling angry meant I am not aware of my own worth. I don’t know if I agree with that but I do try to be mindful of how the way people treat me make me feel. But it’s confusing because there is someone I like now and she makes me feel good but at the same time I also hurt because she says one thing and her actions show me another. There is too much conflict and I would much rather not notice how I am feeling at all.

  7. Elizabeth Zanzinger says

    Heather, Thank you for your encouragement! And thank you for reading it. I can’t wait for another prompt! Laura, I miss your groups, but hopefully this will get me on track again. This space is a great idea!

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