Guest Blog by Annette

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

The things I see.

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I often say that I live in a way cooler world than other, “normal” people. I know that is poor grammar, but the sentiment holds. For me the world is a place of constant wonder and amazement. I am often stunned by how much of what goes on around them other people simply don’t see happening.

Just a few days ago, the construction crew working on the barn I work in was cutting metal piping and welding it at the same time. The play of the intense white welding light and the sparks from the grinder made a disco-ball-like display swirl and glow on the ceiling. I looked, enjoyed, and laughed aloud. They were puzzled at what I was watching until they looked up as well, and I was pleased to receive answering grins from two of them. But my thought was, “how did you miss this? Light, colour, motion, contrast, all at once!” I literally can’t NOT see.

Honestly, it gets a bit embarrassing sometimes. There have been too many occasions to list when I have drawn the attention of people around me to some detail that they have apparently overlooked. Even when I am supposed to be concentrating on something else. Then they think you aren’t paying attention. Well, I was, but that doesn’t mean that I turn off!

When I had a visit with the mental health lady from the clinic we sat and talked for a while, like you are supposed to with a mental health person. (I am on anti-depressants, boring story.) While I was paying close attention to the conversation I also observed everything around me in the office. The clock ticked unevenly, with an occasional double tick, ti-chick, when the minute hand moved. Someone with perfume had been in there before me, a fairly light scent of lilac. The posters on the wall were a triage of possible cardiac patients and chest pain complaints. And so on.

I also paid close attention to the conversation. She called this ‘mindfulness’, and ‘improved situational awareness.’ She said it was really a good thing, and something everyone should try. My friends say “Squirrel!” from the movie UP by Disney.

Mostly it’s pretty cool. Like the light show from the welder, and the tiny tracks I see on the sidewalk in the snow before my clumsy feet shuffle through them. They tell me that a squirrel, a mouse and some sparrows and juncos have visited the bird feeder. Or the hint of wrong line that shows me where a deer is standing oh-so-quiet to not be noticed when I walk along the trail. Or the laugh I get from seeing some cows at my job lying down in order of colour gradient in their stalls.

Other times though, it kind of sucks, not having filters. In a group, when several people are talking I can’t follow any conversations because I hear both at once and can’t separate them. It makes driving in the city both terrifying and exhausting. There are so many things moving, brightly coloured signs, smells from things I drive past, the overload is incredible, and has at least on one occasion gotten me into an accident. And I get lost ridiculously often since I can’t really drive and navigate at the same time.

On that note, Google Earth and Street View are your friends. Pick a landmark close to your turn off and don’t worry about finding stuff till you see it. It makes not having to read every street sign and building number you pass a possibility, and reduces the catastrophic effect of a semi or bus blocking your clear view.

Concerts, fairs, busy malls, a midway or amusement park, a full restaurant…                               Any of those are enough to send me into either a panting bug-eyed panic or a hyperactive mind-blown spin, just from sheer sensory overstimulation. It is both a joke and a painful truth when I quip that I don’t need alcohol or drugs to get high. A bag of cotton candy, a bottle of coke, and some loud music is plenty enough. A person gets too familiar with that sort of vague “I was being an idiot in public again, wasn’t I?” feeling when the excitement wears off, and total, very grumpy, exhaustion kicks in.

On the other hand, it is possible to make sensitivity work for you. I work on a dairy, milking and tending the cows. Often I notice subtle differences in individual animals that tell of possible disease or sore feet long before obvious clinical signs make the problem critical and a lot harder to treat. I can remember and notice changes in condition, milk weights and attitudes, all without even thinking much about it. I see all these things every day. And by ‘see’ I mean consciously observe. A change in the smell of an animal’s breath or (nastily) wastes, tells me a lot about their inner health, which I can then pass on to my boss and later discuss treatment and recovery. And that is good for the farm, and helps ensure my continued employment.

And I notice everything.

Long and short of it… What do you see? Do your “super senses” make your world awesome? Or sometimes really scary? Or even, hopefully, give you just that little better edge?

I hope so. Even if your friends think you have the attention span of a “Squirrel!”

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