Taking views and other things for granted

February 29, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

I have the privilege of working in an 15th floor office with a view.   Most people with offices downtown wouldn’t consider my view to be a great view (because I can’t see the Arch or the baseball stadium from my window), but it’s interesting enough that most people who come to my office look out the window and comment about what they can see.   Even though my window is north-facing, I get some sunlight (there’s no tall buildings butted right up to my building).

What’s interesting to me is that I actually took the time to notice my view today and I was reminded that it is a interesting and worthy view, in an urban downtown sort of way.  You can see lots of activity on the street.  People walking about.  You can see serious construction activity in the old buildings where new lofts are being carved out.   During the day, hundreds of people walk the streets of St. Louis downtown.  Due to the increasing number of lofts, we have a noticable increase in night-time foot traffic too.  You can now see lots of people walking dogs after work.  That was a rare site a few years ago.  More and more restaurants are now opening. 

Again, what is interesting to me today is that I had to make myself take the time to look.  I spend hundreds of hours in this office every month and I don’t think I’ve taken the time to consciously look out my window for many weeks, perhaps months.  

Many of us get so very busy that we get tunnel-vision.  And it almost gets crazy.  It gets to the point where, if you want to do something–anything at all, even something fun–you need to put it on your Outlook calendar.  Maybe I should put a recurring event on Outlook each month:  “Look out your window to see what there is to be seen.”  Sounds like good therapy. 

It makes me wonder what else I’m not paying attention to.

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Category: Meaning of Life, photography, Psychology Cognition, Whimsy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    What am I getting at with this post? Is this just meandering, or am I concerned with my constant lack of mindfulness:

    Right mindfulness (often also termed Right meditation) involves bringing one's awareness back (i.e. from the past or the future) into the present moment. By residing more frequently in the present moment, practitioners begin to see both inner and outer aspects of reality.

    I fear that I too often live in the past or the future, and not often enough in the present. In short, I am often thinking about things different than the place and time I am then occupying.

    I've never done any serious meditation, but I'm tempted to start. Even one of the world's most skeptical skeptics (Sam Harris) is a big advocate:

    The only claim I making with respect to meditation is that there are methods of training our powers of attention, such that we can come to observe the flow of our experience with astonishing clarity. And this can result in a range of insights that, for millennia, people have found both intellectually credible and personally transforming (mostly in the East). The primary insight being that the feeling we call "I"– the sense that we are the thinker of our thoughts, the experiencer of our experiencer — really disappears when looked for in a rigorous way. This is as empirically confirmable at looking for one's optic blind spot . . . .

    When I say that "consciousness remains vividly aware of the continuum of experience" after the feeling of "self" vanishes, I simply mean that nothing necessarily changes at the level of perception. If the birds are chirping, you will still be able to hear them. The difference is that rather than feeling like "you" are hearing "them" (subject and object), there will simply be the pure experience of hearing (without hearer and thing heard).

    You can read this full interview at the Raving Atheist.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    Mindfulness: Every weight loss diet plan is, at its root, a usually profitable gimmick to force mindful eating.

    Sensuality is basically mindful sensing.

    I took up drawing in college to train myself to mindfully see things.

    Occasionally I remember to do things mindfully.

    But life is full of reflexive actions. Walking without noticing the pavement, the breeze, the symphony of odors of passers-by. Eating without smelling or tasting, just to fuel up. Watching without seeing: What is the color of the eyes of your favorite prime-time drama character? Listening without hearing, "What was that, dear?"

    Meditation trains the mind to notice what we are doing, what we are feeling and thinking. Martial arts, preforming arts, science, and so on are other disciplines that do this. But as a means to an end and usually only for a small area of experience.

    Our minds are composed of many busy partitions each with its own area of specialization and agenda. But our attention, our consciousness, our spirit is only aware of one train of experience at a time. Integrating the various sections of the mind is a goal of meditation.

  3. Erika Price says:

    Most people seem to hate riding the bus. Me, I like the view of the people on the street, the different ways people react to one another when taking a seat, the tour-like drive-by of the shops and buildings, the trek across the bridge. It also provides a great little respite to clear the head or re-energize.

    I don't ever meditate, but I suspect I get a similar experience from staring out bus windows, or (in better weather) sitting under a tree. People can get a great "integrated" sense of consciousness in a variety of ways, but it looks like the key lies in taking the effort to process things more carefully and more mindfully. A lot of the time we feel we have "better" things to do.

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