The Strangeness of Paying Attention

There is an inherent strangeness in the world. Just look with enough attention.

We know what a hand is. It’s a part of our body. We know what constitutes the hand – bones, nervous tissue, muscle tissue, cartilage, etc.

And yet, make the following experience: look at your hand, in a relaxed manner, for a couple of minutes. Do not try to think about it. Just look at it. If you want to go a little further: use it to point directly to your face, to your eyes, and direct your gaze to the tip of your finger.

You do not know what this is. You do not know how it works. You do not know what this sensation is, caused by merely witnessing a part of your body.

Now try it with a pet. It’s a dog. Or a cat. Or an iguana. As in the case of the hand, classification is trivial.

But take a closer look. The movements. The detail of hairs, or skin. The wet of the nose; the pattern that covers the skin of the nose. The very strangeness of the fact of the co-habitation of this being, in harmony with you. The strangeness of its actions, of how it ”is.”

Observed with sufficient attention, setting aside the labels, the classifications… It might as well be an alien that you are observing. It’s strange in the same way an alien would be – you don’t know what it is or how it works, beyond the noun.

Is this how children see the world? I do not know. But it is a plane of experience accessible to all.

Just watch carefully.