As you know I’ve been doing the exercises in The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker. The third day is about taking a color walk.

There are all kinds of ways to take a walk and notice colors. I chose to go around my neighborhood and look for the color pink, as it’s my favorite color.

I did not know how many things in my neighborhood contained the color pink. It was everywhere: within a maybe three block radius, I had spotted it dozens of times. Perhaps it helped that I was looking for pink in the summer- pink is the sort of color that is bound to pop up that time of year. I don’t know how successful I’d be if I tried to spot pink when the world wants things pumpkin spiced. (on a side note- can they make more things with pumpkin spice?! I mean , it’s everywhere and in everything)

I really thought that I was an observant person until I began these walks. In reality, I notice almost nothing. I don’t know if it’s an I’m a New Yorker and nothing phases/surprises me anymore, or if I’m too focused on safety and looking out for my person, or if I’m just too wrapped up in my day to day existence, aka my to do list. Do I really give myself the time to just take in my surroundings? Do I have the luxury of being able to take in my surroundings on a normal day?

Blog friend G Sandwich noted a few weeks ago that in the suburbs where she resides, if she wants to walk 10,000 steps, she must specifically plan for it- it’s not something that comes naturally to her as it does to a city dweller like me. And I feel like this book is teaching me the same lesson: if I want to notice things, I must set an intention that I will notice things. My walk has to be specifically about noticing things. This is part of being an adult, knowing that things need to get done. But trying to be creative…well, that takes work and thought. Maybe not for everyone, but it does for me.

And because I am a task oriented sort of gal, I am going to try to do one observation thing a week- I’m actually putting it in my planner. If I want to look at things differently, if I want to explore with all my senses, I must make the effort to do it. I realize that there are people who will think this odd, who will say I’m overthinking this…but I say to them, how much pink is around you when you take a walk? What do you remember about the last walk you took? And if you can’t remember more than one thing, you’ll know why I am doing this. We assume, we take for granted…but do we actually look and listen…touch and smell? Do we think of everything as ordinary and therefor pass it by without thought?

Find the extraordinary in the day to day. Notice the things that you tend to pass by. Be fully enmeshed in your life.

52 thoughts on “Day 3 Observation- Color Walk

  1. I think that I’d be much more like you if I lived in the city (crime, safety, errands focused) but here, while my head is still on a swivel, I’m trying to look at all the things that have changed since my previous walk.

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    1. I guess I don’t always have the luxury of meandering. And if I’m with the dog it’s a whole other making sure she doesn’t eat junk off the ground experienve

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    2. I thought about your comment when I was earring lunch…I treated myself to ramen cause I was craving it, and I read my book while I ate…I was thinking about all the times we don’t just let ourselves be because of all the things around us…how often do we pass simple moments by?

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      1. I think that’s part of the reason I am so anti-devices. Of course we need them at times, but I have many very specific places and activities that do not include even my phone. I’m okay just sitting, looking and listening, or as you said- plugging into a book and treating yourself. How do people learn about their world and even the other humans around them in the usual hyper-focused state we tend to live in.

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    3. I think qualities like this, that you want to develop in yourself and that may not come naturally, like observing what’s around you with a certain intent, can be developed as LA is doing. I think that’s what is called a habit, right?

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  2. It’s true we don’t often take notice of every little detail. And we should. Colors keep us happy and can bring us joy. When I’m strong enough to take walks I do notice more than I used to. There’s something incredibly beautiful about the little things we see when we take the time to actually look. Pink is everywhere this month. Don’t forget to look for the color Teal. That color represents Ovarian cancer. If you see the color teal ( a greenish blue) on your walks, think about donating to Ovarian cancer. Your money will help women like moi, who rely on grants to stay alive, get to live longer. ( The costs for the latest chemo medications is thousands a month for infusions). So while pink always reminds me to donate to breast cancer, think about donating to the Teal charities as well. Ovarian cancer Is still the deadliest gynecological cancer. So perhaps look for some teal on your next color walk. Peace and love.

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  3. While I do need to notice other things more, I spend a great deal of time on my dog walks noticing plants – what is blooming and where, is something new to me? etc. Recently I spied a rogue squash plant by the side of the road. Today I noted the first potential squash (female blossom) that will bloom tomorrow. My goal is to be sure it gets pollinated and in a few weeks – viola! A free squash! (Okay, that’s assuming a critter doesn’t eat it first)🙂

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  4. We have so much stimulus coming in on us from our technology. If you are in the city, there are so many things and people around you. I those together make it harder to focus on the details. It is easier for me when I go on a walk in the country where there is just so much beauty all the time. On the other hand, when you get a new “X,” all of a sudden you notice so many other people with an “X” too. They have been there all the time, but you just haven’t focused on it. Your observation exercises are interesting.

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  5. I love this idea. I tend to notice one tiny thing when I walk… I’m walking along and… Bam! Something beautiful. Wow. I stop for a few moments, and then, walking along and… Bam! Awe hits me right in the eyes all over again. Wow. Beauty. Wow.

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  6. What Kim said about photography resonates with me. When I started taking pictures on a regular basis, I found I noticed so much more. It feels as if I’m constantly looking at the world through a viewfinder, and making compositions. I know this happens, as the type of pictures I compose are often influenced by what focal length of lens I’ve most recently been using (I tend to shoot with a prime lens and not to swap over during an outing). That said, I could probably get caught out on – for example – how much pink is on display in my village high street, so it doesn’t hurt to do the exercises.

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  7. I love walking! Especially in a city. My hip (right) is hurting or aching a little more lately. I also get lots of steps at the middle school I work at. Hopefully, when I retire in the next couple of years, I will walk once more new places with my husband and by myself. I can dream until then.

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