Last night, I was about to leave work when a lady comes up asking where the nearest clinic is because someone needed a doctor. I briefly glanced at who was talking then hopped on my computer to look up the info. It wasn't until they went outside to grab a cab that my work-twin told me who the person who needed attention was - someone I know and like.
And it hit me, like a dead herring slap to the face. I hadn't even looked up! I didn't take 3 seconds to see the person behind the lady talking. I was in "the zone". And then, to my chagrin, I realized I am almost always in "the zone." I am so oblivious to so much, now.
Walking home from work, I was thinking:
1. How did I get this way?
2. How do I fix myself?
And as I was walking and thinking, I nearly missed seeing my twin walking back from Starbucks! I had already, unconsciously, and faster than a hyena on carrion, slipped back into "the zone"!
It occurred to me this all began when I moved to NYC. I became focused solely on my career. Walking to and from the school I'd be thinking and planning - my world became a myriad of (in my mind) crucial tasks. So I began blocking out "useless/unimportant/bothersome" information - i.e.. the world around me.
You learn quickly to keep to yourself here - plug into your iPod or gaze into the glaring depths of your phone on the subway so you can pretend you're not bumping against a dozen sweaty, smelly people in the middle of a July heatwave; travel quickly and with purpose (because there's nothing worse than a tourist stopping in the middle of the sidewalk gawking at a building, slowing you down on your way to something veeeery important); don't make eye contact with the homeless, beggars, and panhandlers because they'll hassle you and/or make you feel guilty.
So you close your eyes to the pain and suffering and wonder and amusement and annoyance of your fellow human beings. You turn your head away from the girl curled under a coat on the sidewalk, hugging her dog close, with a cardboard sign asking for change for a bus ticket home. You look at storefronts instead of faces as you walk down the street, missing a vital personal exchange with a stranger who could one day become your best friend. You shoulder-clip a tourist who is in this magnificent city for the first time, and give them a jarring obscenity to remember you by.
We spend so much time not looking, that eventually we stop seeing. We stop hearing. We stop caring.
It seems we are doing all we can to remain isolated and "above it all" (whatever that actually means), when in reality, we are missing out on the little interactions that make life so memorable.
I know how I got this way - so now how do I change my detrimental, life-experience-dampening behavior? I'm still working on this, and am open to suggestions. But I encourage you, take notice again. I bet you won't regret it.