Once you start noticing something, you can’t unnotice it. Once you’ve seen, you have a responsibility to continue seeing.
There are many things I can’t stop myself from seeing: My to-do list at work. Homeless people. Tattoos. Old people trembling in their shoes, newborns cocooned in arms, and the lovely young woman jiggling across the street. Plum blossoms in bloom. My family’s moods telegraphed in dots and dashes across their faces and along their limbs. The day’s detritus—dishes collecting by the sink, piles of clothes and books and random bits that grow near our front door. And the crows.
Things I don’t notice: My face in the mirror, gray hairs creeping in at the edges, pills collecting on my favorite sweater. My own messes which, unlike other people’s, make complete sense to me. The slowly growing ache in my bones. I’m straining so hard to read what I’ve written I don’t even hear the phone. I know the schedule for today but don’t ask me what’s happening tomorrow. I’m watching the sidewalk so intently I forget to look up at the sky.
This is why they put blinders on horses– so they won’t get distracted from the road in front of them. With blinders on, it’s easier to put one foot in front of the other, to just keep moseying along. I have just given notice at my work and I’m feeling torn. I learned how to do the job extremely well but the job did not grow to fit me. It wanted all my attention, all my time, like a baby that never grows up, like a greedy mouth that’s never full. But still, there were parts of the job that were perfect, things that I could have kept improving and perfecting, and it’s going to be hard to shift my focus.
Once you start seeing something, it’s difficult to unsee it. The present tense is mesmerizing. But sometimes you have to tear your eyes away and force your head to turn in order to find a better view. I can say these words and even believe them but still, it feels like an infidelity. I’m a loyal old horse standing at a crossroads, waiting for some kind of nudge.
How do you trick yourself into moving forward?