I have seen him at a distance around the neighborhood walking his dog occasionally, maybe every other week or so. I do not know him, we have never spoken. They seem content, but he is always on the phone. Every time, though holding his dog on the leash, his focus is on the phone. When I see that, I cannot help but think: You are missing it.
Of course he may well argue this – that he is in fact very focused and not missing it at all. We are referring to different things, when we speak of it.
I have been thinking about this, this missing it. It is an intriguing concept. I think it comes at different levels.
We do not notice what we cannot see. Of course, seeing is a sort of shorthand here. This is more broadly about perception, so it extends to the senses more generally.
Seeing well is not easy. The interesting things might be too big or too small, too much or too little, too far or too close. We focus on presence, when sometimes it is absence that is more valuable to notice. We come burdened with biases that have us get in our own way, create blind spots that make it more difficult, perhaps impossible to see.
At the best of times, our view is limited. There is so much that we necessarily do not see. The more we could see, the more we are likely to miss.
We may well see, but not understand.
Imagine yourself in a game of chess. The board is set up in front of you, mid-game, all information essentially open to see. Imagine your opponent is much, much better than you. You see the pieces, but don’t understand the problem. Imagine reading an advanced paper on a topic well outside your field. You see the words, but don’t understand the point. Perhaps you see a famous painting, but do not understand its meaning.
This is not a binary situation, either none or all. Rather, there is a spectrum of understanding. The less you understand, the more you probably miss.
We can see, even understand, yet still fail to act.
It happens all the time. People often understand clearly what they should do, how they should get better sleep, exercise more, eat healthier. They might even resolve to do just that – and then don’t, or not for long, much like a new year’s resolution that went nowhere. The gap between understanding, even decision or planning and actual action can be vast.
Of course, non-action can be the correct response, but often it is not.
So it goes.
It is very likely to be missing something. This may not matter much. However, if it seems like you are missing it, specifically, then start at the top. What do you see? What are you not seeing? Why?
The person absorbed in their phone, while they’re walking their dog?
They are a good reminder, teaching by example.
What are you missing?