Have You Noticed if You’ve Stopped Noticing?

Everyday we drive the same streets. We stop at the same stop signs and the same signals. We make the same left turns and the same right turns. It’s what we do to attend to the business of our lives. As I thought about this monotony, I recalled a class I had back in college in Buffalo, New York.

imagesOne of my professors gave this assignment. The following day, we were to walk for several blocks along a designated city street and see what was there. I was a commuter student who drove that street everyday. I knew there was nothing interesting. Just a lot of old buildings and traffic. I thought about not going. BOR-ing.

But I went and on the walk … the aroma of Italian food drifted from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. A cornerstone on an old brick building chronicled its year of construction as 1900. There was a dry cleaner, a busy mom and pop grocery, and a neighborhood bar. Bells tolled from a nearby church. Horns blasted. People talked and argued. Dandelions poked their heads out from unlikely places. Intricate hardware decorated old painted doors. And more. Well, well.

What did the prof want us to do? Notice. Observe. Be aware. See. Use the senses. He made his point.

Remembering that class, I decided to do some “noticing” along streets I drive to get into town. Somehow this horse figure had become part of the big blur. It’s located on a corner where I make a left turn everyday.


He’s on a corner at a busy four way stop.

I’d never bothered to park, get out of the car, and really look. So I did. As I looked and took this picture, I noted the texture, details, and artistry. I felt the power, the strength, the freedom. I wondered, What is it about horses?


She’s with her foal at yet another busy four way stop.

As I continued with my drive and picture taking, I had all sorts of horse connections pop into my mind. Films like National Velvet, War Horse, and Seabiscuit. Books like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Paintings by George Stubbs. Budweiser Clydesdales and carriage rides in a park. Carousel horses. The Pony Express and stagecoaches. Prancing circus horses. Farmers guiding horse-drawn plows. The calvary mounting a charge. Cowboys. Indian ponies. Dressage. Rodeos. Polo games. Wild horses running, their nostrils flaring.


My favorite. They’re just standing by the side of the road. 

So what is it about these animals? Their strength? Their beauty? Their timelessness? I guess that’s up to the beholder. Whatever it may be, horses continue to inspire authors, artists, and filmmakers. They’re part of our past and our present. They evoke rich emotions. They give us superstitions and sayings like “horse sense.”

Keeping in the luck.

Keeping in the luck.

No doubt, “Art in Public Places” along an everyday drive is a bonus. It enhances the environment and makes us think. It can turn a bad mood into a good one or ignite the creative spirit. It’s definitely easier to notice. (These pieces were installed by two corporations, one advertising a housing development and the other a hotel.)

However, an everyday trip without public art has just as much potential to ignite our thoughts, our community awareness, and our appreciation. That’s if we give the journey a chance.

Once in a while, take a moment to observe what’s along your path. The people. The animals. The buildings. The trees, plants, and weather. The smells, sounds, and scenery. Don’t forget your thoughts, your feelings. They’re waiting to be noticed, too.

What you see may be pleasing. It may not be pleasing. It could even be disturbing. But after you do take notice, your response might not be as mechanical. Things may not even be as BOR-ing. (Remember that college kid?)

And how much richer you’ll be in your awareness. And … if writing is your passion … what stories can be told? What scenes can your words paint?

About cmwriter

I'm a writer ... of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I blog about writing, short stories, poetry, books, plays, and thoughts on life. Love reading and travel and being with friends!
This entry was posted in Creativity, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, Inspiration, Looking for Inspiration, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Have You Noticed if You’ve Stopped Noticing?

  1. Krista says:

    I love this so much. It’s always good to stop and smell the roses.

  2. cmwriter says:

    Hi Krista – Exactly! Thank you for stopping by. We’re about to leave to make that daily drive now. 🙂

  3. Hi Carol,
    I love this post.
    I think you should forward it to the City Manager: citymanagersoffice@la-quinta.org
    Frank will be happy to know that we appreciate Art in Public Places!

    • cmwriter says:

      Hi Vicki – Like your idea! I don’t know when the installation of the two horses occurred. One day it was just there. (Or maybe I finally noticed it.)

  4. Eleanor says:

    First ooff I want to say excellen blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your mind before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my
    thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like tthe
    first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Many thanks!

    • cmwriter says:

      Thank you, Eleanor. So glad you stopped by. To get centered writing-wise for a blog post … I probably have a general idea on my topic but it’s very nebulous. I may jot down a few points I want to cover and then I just start writing. And a funny thing begins to happen … outside thoughts get pushed away. I know I want a good opening, but I don’t worry about that right then. The writing may prove to be garbage at first but it’s a signal to my brain and body that the process is beginning. As I write, I’m thinking “what else?” is pertinent to the topic. And I let myself write the blog through, get the thoughts down. The thoughts and sentences trigger more ideas. Then I read the piece through and start to play. Rearrange paragraphs, possibly add a new idea or two, delete an idea or two, check for repetition, look at sentence structure and sentence variety. I may have to do a bit of research to check facts or credit sources. When the piece is pretty cohesive, then I go back and play with the opening to attract a reader and hold them with enough meat and content to make it worth their while. So, keep the critic off your shoulder, brush him away, and allow yourself to write, with the idea it may not be pretty at first, but like a make-up artist, you can “pretty it up” later. So once again, just begin. Even if it’s “Today I’m writing about ….”

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