Suddenly noticing strange, new shapes through the stark winter branches of the trees and metal fence, I stopped, confused. Had I been so unconscious of my walk that I’d taken the wrong path? I was hiking one of usual “daily doses of green” so I could easily be on automatic.
However, today I was doing the route in reverse. Having walked this same trail yesterday and wondering if various bushes had been cut down overnight, I even considered that I had stepped into Narnia! I looked around at what else was different and realised that yes, my brain was telling me that this path did not look familiar, however, rationally I knew that I was currently on the only way out of the green clearing.
In four years of walking this path, I had never seen the allotments that were on the other side, so why was I seeing them now? Arriving at the railway line (as normal), I reflected that as I was walking the route in reverse meant that obviously my perspective was different, and something must have made me peer through the barren branches.
Also, there had been a novel experience earlier: I had turned a corner on to a road and opposite was a strange looking fox: brown and black with a thin tail. Well, its head shape and ears indicated the small mammal, the rest of it did not. Clocking me, it dashed off, presumably into one of the back gardens of the houses.
I have only seen a similar looking animal once before and by the railway line, not late morning and when everyone is locked down inside their homes. Feeling slightly unsettled by this, my brain was probably having a mild limbic response and therefore on alert to notice much more than usual.
Combined with the change in perspective, this is the rational explanation for attending to objects not previously seen – they were not important before, as I usually look straight ahead, to avoid cyclists and dog walkers.
The human brain constantly filters out incoming data to all our senses. Neural networks for vision are particularly dominant. Your brain is constructing a reality that is useful for you in that moment. Imagine if it did not do this? Perhaps, understanding autism provides a mere glimpse of the overwhelming sensory cacophony of what this could entail.
Therefore, in environments where things are familiar to us every day – such as our loved ones for example – it is beneficial choosing to consciously see them through another lens, and in a different setting, to appreciate new aspects of their strengths and skills and other desirable qualities.The same of course applies to those who you work with.
What would benefit from a new perspective in your work or personal life?
*Subsequent research suggests that unless it was a coyote (in England?), sadly, it was probably a fox with mange, hence the lack of typical red fur.