The Observation of New Things

(About a 1 minute read)

It’s about 30 minutes before dawn.  I hear a wild goose off in the distance, and then my neighbor cough. Now and then a car passing on the distant street. My thoughts come and go.  I feel I should grab one of those thoughts, wrestle it into submission, and present it as a blog post.

But that can wait.  For now, I’d rather just watch the night turn into day.  The refrigerator comes on.  The furnace creaks.  I hear wind chimes from across the yard.  A morning dove.

The sky is light enough the trees are silhouetted against it now.  The early dawn.

I think an odd thing about observation is that we so often want to give it a purpose and then guide it. By guide it, I mean we want to weed out some of what’s happening because it doesn’t fit in with our purpose — with what we’re looking for.  Then, too, we want to hold onto other parts of what’s happening because those parts actually fit our purpose.

Yet — when we observe with a purpose in mind — we more or less observe what we expect to observe.

It seems to me that it can be extraordinarily difficult to observe without any purpose.  For the most part, we’re looking for something.  Often, that “something” is beauty, pleasure, or whatever we expect to find because we’ve seen it before.  But whatever it is, we are actively looking for it, whether we are fully conscious of actively looking for it, or not.

Still, it’s in those rarer moments when we are not looking for anything — when we do not seek beauty, pleasure, or this or that thing — that we are most likely to discover the new.

8 thoughts on “The Observation of New Things

  1. I don’t know how, but you bring in a soothing, gentle tone to this post. Picasso would be hard pressed to paint a better picture than you did. I can imagine what the scene would be like. You capture an observation about observing and express it extremely eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thought provoking! A thought you’ve provoked in my mind: does having a “purpose” behind one’s observations help, or hinder the pursuit of objective truth? It seems to me, it can be both. It can hinder if it leads you to seek out observations which only confirm the answer you want to prove (i.e., confirmation bias). But it can also help if it leads you to cut through meaningless data and home in on those observations which help disprove hypotheses (the scientific method).

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    • It’s so good to see you, Spinks! In my initial draft of this post, I didn’t stop where it stops now, but went on to discuss observation in the sciences. I got about 500 words into it when I realized that the topic didn’t stylistically fit well with the first part of the post. So I edited it out of the post as you see it here. However, I plan to complete what I started about observation in the sciences in the near future, and then post it to the blog. I plan on addressing the very questions you ask in that post. Right now, however, I don’t have a complete answer for you. Figures, right? 😀

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  3. I don’t do this nearly often enough. Just sit and use my senses and take note of what they feed me. Of course just listening is hard when you live with a DJ who always has to have something playing! Silence is rare. And work is a noise-fest of rumbles beeps engines and men talking/shouting/laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear it’s so rare to get away to someplace quiet where you can just sit and observe. I feel fortunate that my cottage is well off the street, behind some old Victorians that block a lot of the noise from reaching me.

      Liked by 1 person

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