This world. This place. This life.

The grace of inattention


With a mix of affection an impatience, my mother used to call me her “absentminded professor.”  Usually when she and my father had been enlisted to help find my glasses, or some other lost object.

I have always been an intuitive introvert, more comfortable exploring the nooks and crannies of my own mind than noticing and interacting with the world outside.

It has its drawbacks.  I would be a much better driver if certain stop signs didn’t come as such a surprise.  I fully expect that when my bones become frail, I will need someone to alert me to small objects in my path.

My partner, through temperament and necessity, notices everything.  And that’s not always a good thing.  There’s a lot of unpleasant stuff out there, and noticing all of it is like being allergic to everything.   Sometimes not noticing is a blessing.

And sometimes inattention yields unexpected discoveries.

My new favorite yogurt is made with homemade yogurt and King Kelly marmalade.  A few days ago, I was stowing a half-jar of yogurt and the marmalade back in the fridge.  As usual, I was thinking about something else.  I put the marmalade in the fridge–and when I looked back at the counter, there was the lid from the marmalade.  I had closed the marmalade jar with the lid from the yogurt.

A lightbulb went on in my head.  Last week the dishwasher melted one of the yogurt lids.  If the yogurt lid fit on the marmalade, shouldn’t the reverse be true?  And it was!

Had I been paying attention, I never would have thought to exchange the two lids.  What a gift–and what a weird and wonderful world.


2 thoughts on “The grace of inattention

  1. I always say there’s no such thing as a mistake as long as you learned something. I could go on and on about all the things we learned to do out here, because we made a “mistake!” Indeed, humanity has discovered many wonderful things by accident, like cheese and soap!

    • Yes, I’m a big believer in seeing the gifts in different ways of thinking, different ways of seeing the world. I can also see that the way my brain likes to swoop, rather than focus, does have advantages in the internet age.

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