Friday, April 1, 2016

Bounded Awareness

Making an exit is a process.  I am focused.  I whisper to my granddaughters, “I’m leaving now”.  Ava looks at me with an understanding gaze.  I am careful when picking up my keys from the crystal bowl on the table.  I ensure there is no noise.  This is an art.  Slowly I open the back door so no creeping could be heard.   Success!!  My focused attention to all the details worked!   

I successfully sneak out of the house without Barkley, my precious toy poodle becoming aware that he must stay home this time. I hate looking at his pathetic begging expression when he will be left behind.  He has a way to multiply my guilt ten-fold.

As I drive away while opening my purse to ensure my drivers license is at hand. I need to show it at the gate.  Once I couldn’t find my license.  It isn’t a good idea to drive onto a military base and tell the military police you have no driver’s license to show.  Take my word for it.  It can get ugly.

Twenty minutes later, I am at the Air Force Base, presenting my identification.  I drive through the gate and  park my car.  I arrive as usual; about ten minutes before class starts. Ten minutes is plenty of time to talk to the university staff, pick up materials and effortlessly facilitate tonight’s subject “Bounded Awareness”.  Bounded Awareness is the failure to see and use information and resources that are readily available.  We experience this when becoming narrowly focused.  Failure to take the complete environment into consideration can result in mistakes.  

I reach in the back seat to grab my bag filled with books, notes and video material for the night.  I spent a few hours this week reviewing the material and making sure I’m up to date on any changes that might have taken place on this subject in the past year.  I am totally prepared to deliver this material and marvel at my creative ability to find the perfect video from a National Geographic Series “The Brain Game”.  It features a twenty minute piece on Inattention Blindness, which effortlessly connects to Bounded Awareness.  

To my horror I realize I left the bag at home!  I was so focused on making sure my dog didn’t see me leave that I forgot all my materials.  I am caught up in a self-imposed drama of Bounded Awareness!  I call my son to rescue me.  I run into the building and bolt up the stairs.  I quickly write a note on the white board indicating class will start 1/2 hour late. 

I run out to the gate to wait for Brendan.  The military police are understanding allowing Brendan to drive onto the base and drop me off at the door rather than have me walk the 10 minutes or so to get to my classroom.  As I walk into the classroom, I realize there is a happy ending to this drama. I have a fresh story to demonstrate the concept of Bounded Awareness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Doorway

Words in a James Taylor song ring true at unexpected times my life …”Lord knows when the cold wind blows, it will turn your head around”.  Today was one of those days.  I woke to a cold morning.  An uncommon cold snap has crossed the city.  Laying on my king sized bed and under the warmth of my down comforter I procrastinate, just briefly, to start my day.  This is a morning easily given into.  It would be so simple to turn on the TV and just call it a “me” day.

“Come on Barkley, it’s time to get up”, I gently coax my perfectly groomed toy poodle.  He too is enjoying the warmth of the comforter.   He yawned, looked up and then realized it was time for his pills and breakfast.  I carefully wrap each of his morning pills in roast beef I buy from the deli.  I pay a premium for his roast beef but it is only a fraction of the $150 per month his medication costs, coupled with his grooming appointments, pet insurance, teeth brushing and routine checks at the veterinarian, he is a well cared for friend.

Today is Monday, the day I volunteer in my granddaughter Mia’s classroom.  I rush to get ready, pound a cup of freshly brewed coffee and quickly leave through the backdoor and into the garage.  As I start the car opening the automatic garage door, it is a day like any other.  I am looking forward to working with a room full of five-year-old children.  Their new fresh lives energize me.  I quickly turn on the heat and begin my journey.

I turn onto Carson Boulevard where small businesses line the streets in between fast-food restaurants and gas stations.  Just down the road is a large county hospital.  This is the facility where people go when they cannot afford insurance; the facility where alcohol and drug overdoses are common; where victims of violence are treated and the facility where people are forced to enter when they won’t take their medication. 

Red lights are flashing from the lone police car at the side of the road.  Two police officers  and a handful of bystanders are standing on the sidewalk looking down at the doorway to one of the businesses.  A white  sheet is covering a newly discovered statistic.  Homeless people sleep in doorways.

I wonder what is under the sheet . . . a man, a woman?  This was someone’s child.  It could have been someone’s mother or father.  What were her hopes and dreams?  I wonder if a significant event triggered this life or could it have been a chosen life or even a life destined and driven by DNA.  It appears to be a torturous life to me – but was it to him?  Did he talk to himself in a mean and chastised way or had she reconciled to her self-imposed normal?  Was it self-imposed? Was he cold as he lay there dying?  Did anyone pass without notice?  

I reflect on my previous night of comfort around those that I love and am loved by.  I am instantly saddened by the unanswered questions that create an image under the sheet that lay inside the cold doorway.

I watch the bystanders and the police officers standing around…waiting for the truck that will haul away the remnants of what is left.  Are they hardened?  Do they care?  Is there judgment?  Is this just a morning nuisance?  Or, are they too saddened and reflective? Maybe I should have started this post with John Lennon’s “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”.  There are so many questions that come to mind as I watch this scene. 

I arrive at Mia's classroom and watch the fresh new curious faces and can't help continuing the reflection of the morning scene.

This is the life most don’t want to see…the life many deny but is ever-present in every community.  I know.