In the Background

When I was a youth my father took me driving. He used to quiz me as I was behind the wheel (terrified that I would do something wrong because of course my father was in the passenger seat)! He would ask me the colour of the car behind me and I had to answer without looking. What were the colours of the cars on either side of me, how many people were in the cars? He taught me that it is in the background, the places we don’t usually look, where there is a true value to be aware of.

I have known many police officers in my life, professionally and personally. No, I am not a criminal! And one thing I learned about them very early on is it is that they are always aware of what’s going on around them. Their eyes are almost on a swivel, constantly moving. I felt safe in their presence, gun notwithstanding. And I learned to do it too.

I may not be able to tell you what people are wearing around me within 10 feet nowadays but there was a time when I could. And I would do it unconsciously. Many, many years ago I was at a mall and was leaving with my purchases. At the time there was a serial molester about and young women were being warned to take care. I carried my keys in my fist and I put my head on a swivel. It was a bright beautiful Saturday afternoon and as I stepped off the curb, I noticed a young man do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. He glanced at me and then turned away but he continued to move in the same direction I was. My heart was in my throat but I continued on to my car and quickly got inside. No hesitation. I glanced over and yes, he was looking at me and then turned on his heel and went back into the mall. This was in the days before cell phones so when I got home, I called the police and gave them a detailed description of the man. Was he the molester? I have no idea. But the man they arrested a few days later resembled the one I saw.

Being aware is not just a safety thing. When I watch TV, I always take the time to see what’s going on in the background and sometimes it explains the foreground. It’s almost as if we are programmed to see only what is in front of us. We have peripheral vision and it is quite acute if we would just pay attention.  Perhaps that is the key: we need to pay attention…

33 thoughts on “In the Background

  1. passionfortruths

    To add to that, we need to look at the story behind the stories … from people who preach religion, politics and reporting from mainstream media, I opine. Things are not always as straightforward… Discernment is important. 😊

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  2. Dan Antion

    I had to laugh when you pointed out that you aren’t a criminal, Pam. It wouldn’t have been my first guess 😉

    My father also taught us to be aware, coupled with “act like you belong there.” Wherever ‘there’ was. Close call for you. I’m glad your keen senses put you on alert. I hope you have a great week.

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  3. Mark Lanesbury

    Now that is indeed a very profound story Pam, in more ways than one. I can see how acute that ‘sense’ is in this world, and upon reading your story it made me realise that is what I do spiritually, ‘sensing’ that awareness where a persons heart is in their journey. Some things jump out and you see its import where others just go on by. Great story, and very glad you were indeed ‘aware’ my friend and here to share it 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

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  4. Murphy's Law

    You were and still are one sharp cookie! Your dad’s lessons served you well.

    We live in a world where people, young and old alike, are glued to their cellphones. The only thing they’re focusing on is the text they’re sending and they’re not paying any attention to their surroundings. Before you know it they’ve fallen into the basement of a building where the sidewalk cover was temporarily off for a delivery. Next they sue the city for NEGLIGENCE!!!

    This is just one tiny example of how unaware we are of our surroundings.

    Love your sketch.
    Ginger

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  5. Sorryless

    Pam, this is so important. I’m glad you were raised of a mind to be aware of your surroundings, because who knows otherwise? And you know why this message is doubly important today? Because in spite of the fact we have cell phones in the event of an emergency, we’re too busy paying attention to them to notice what’s going on around us.

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  6. Dale

    I don’t know if I was officially taught by one particular person but I do walk with a purpose, head straight, shoulders back. A person wanting to cause grief will think twice and go for one who looks more timid. That doesn’t mean we should not always be aware of our surroundings. And how awful that we need to be taught to be wary, don’t you think?

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  7. rangewriter

    Great observation (heh, heh) and great post. I believe your attention to detail and to what lies beyond the obvious is what informs your art and your writing. In addition to keeping you safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Widdershins

    I think it’s officially called, ‘situational awareness.’ I had it growing up in the bush, honed it living as an out butch lesbian in the city … and with the advent of the internet, send my feelers far and wide. Information is power, only if you know what to do with it. 😀

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