Sunday, April 3, 2011

Attention Walk - Darwin

The “attention” tour we took was strongly influenced by the preliminary instructions the Andrew gave us. By forcing us to eliminate all of the “normal” cognition of our surroundings, it offered the opportunity to perceive things in a very different way. The strongest perceptions I got were during the walk, while the quiet period at the end caused a more emotional response.


The first thing I noticed was that there didn’t seem to be a level surface during our entire walk; everything was a gradient of incline or decline, and there was a constant physical requirement to maintain vertical orientation. I felt constant adjustments being made by my feet, lower and upper legs, back and neck – all to remain in balance and upright.

I was especially aware of the efforts of my feet to both provide the necessary leverage for balance, but also to conform (through the soft soles of my shoes) to the micro-changes found as we walked over bricks, sidewalk cracks and steps. I sensed the individual phalanges each working to maintain balance and to keep the foot centered under my body.


As we walked behind the Driscoll building, I found myself drawn to colors – and especially the color white. There was a group of white vans that caught my interest; soon, I began noticing white in other places. In attempting to think outside the norm, I began wondering what relationship the vans might have to the plastic tubes around the wires holding up the trees, and how that might be related to the street signs.

I had a similar reaction to the various standpipes and manhole covers throughout the grounds. Some of them were chrome, but many were rusted and unkempt. I began to wonder if there might be a relationship between the various pipe colors and their interconnectivity. Was the watering-system pipe connected to the same system as the manhole cover? Were they both also connected to the unknown covered pipe near the pool?


As we walked behind the apartments, I began to notice that there was a constant creation of interference patterns due to the various fences. A wooden fence’s cracks, with a chain-link fence behind it, produced a rhythmic moiré pattern related to the speed I walked. Wire runs behind other fences, layers of buildings and even the willow branches created architectural forms and intricate moving patterns. This was hypnotizing, but the more I paid attention, the more I saw these patterns.


At the end of the quiet time, there was a request for comment. I wanted to say something, but found myself unwilling to break my silence; I had entered a very non-verbal place, and couldn’t conjure up words for the things that were just under the surface. Rather than make an attempt, it seemed to be natural to allow the request to be vacated, and to allow my inner sense of calm to be maintained.


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