The Art of Observation

One of the things I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is that one of my biggest strengths may be, of all things, my observational skills. Which isn’t to say that I just wander around looking at things. Although in full transparency, I also do that…especially if I’m trying to hatch Pokémon. Don’t judge; I exceed my step goal on the regular, even if it is set suspiciously low. That’s just good goal setting.

From my personal collection. (Yes, this is a screenshot from my cell phone. Authenticity is important to me.)

But the art of observation really does go beyond simply watching something. You’re seeing, experiencing, and interpreting data to some end, like to record your awesome white-rumped sandpiper sighting (ornithology which, really, isn’t all that different from Pokémon Go, so we’ll probably have a legit population of bird watchers in a handful of decades).

One of my favorite things is my very frequent sighting of a red-tail hawk couple that hangs out on the streetlights on my drive into work. Most mornings, they’ll be perched toward the top of a bridge, watching the field and grassy areas around the road. They’re beautiful birds, and seem like they could care less about the mundane human traffic passing below them, which I don’t think anyone can blame them for.

I can’t help but wonder as we humans pass through—does anyone else notice them? With phones and radios and drop-offs and trains that make us late because they ALWAYS hit at rush hour…is anyone else paying attention? Do others spend time wondering if they have a nest nearby, if they have a specific routine that brings them into our path, how whether the city builds on the field might impact that routine if it reduces prey, how long they’ve been a couple because that is just really cute to think about?

I hope so. And I hope it makes others as happy as seeing and thinking about them makes me.

I’ve sort of become fascinated with improving not only my observational skills but how to interpret what I observe, what I think I know, what others have discovered. It certainly plays a part in better understanding my place in this world, even if it will never be as an ultimate Pokémon Go trainer. And it won’t. Trust me on that one.

To that end, I’m reading books I’ve never considered before. Like one about physics, which typically flies over my head further than those lovely hawks can—until someone explains it to me, and especially if they explain it in a way where I can connect it to other things I do more naturally comprehend. And luckily for me, I have very smart friends who are not only able but willing to do that even when I ask all of the questions, because I will. We’ll just call that Brinado brain.

I’m taking some big leaps to literally start learning on a regular basis again and expand my professional expertise in a way that I anticipate will vastly improve my abilities by making connections across data.

I’m starting to lend my time and knowledge to boards for organizations I truly believe in and that, not surprisingly, have overlapping ideals and goals. And I suspect there’s more data and new insights across these efforts than I can even begin to comprehend right now, but I can’t wait to dig in and see what I find and how I can contribute.

And I’m observing even more. And asking questions. Trying to make connections.

And most nerve-wracking of all, I’m sharing. Because sharing is caring, and also quite necessary for data accumulation.

I would love to know if others have thoughts like these, and what you do to sharpen your art of observation!

Unknown Bird
If anyone can identify this very average looking (WI) bird from my low-res cell phone grab, you’ll be my ornithological hero. Which is the entire point, right?


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