The computer desk I sit at all day looks right onto a sidewalk, so in the corner of my eye I see a scattered stream of people who either live in the neighborhood or have come here to visit one of the two other tenants in this building: a dance studio and a popular brunch spot.
The most regular player on this Mulberry Street stage is the dance studio owner, who has a giant perm and about a pack-a-day cigarette habit that takes him out by the dumpster and, next to that, my window. (Yes, it's certainly a picture-perfect view!) There are also lots of hungry hipsters strolling by, and a background that includes lots of Vanagons and Outback. Two houses down it's "clothing optional", I remember one of them telling me at a neighborhood block party.
Outside my window I've recently come to notice a man who frequently walks by with his dog. The first thing I noticed about him was that he was blind. And thus, without thinking about it much at all, I automatically assumed his canine companion was a seeing eye dog. But then, looking a bit more closely I realized that the man was leading the dog, not the other way around. Until then I also had never stopped to consider that he always had one of those sticks to poke in front of where he was waslking. Therefore having a real guide dog would have rendered the stick (I'm obviously ignorant of its formal term) unnecessary.
After this discovery I got to thinking: Have I ever before seen a blind person walking with a dog that was not his or her seeing-eye dog? Either this gentleman who regularly passed my window was really unique, or I had continually made that same incorrect assumption, the victim of a lazy, "If x=y", knee-jerk manner of thinking.
After all, when you really think about it, there's no reason a blind person can't just want a dog because he or she loves dogs. And there's no reason a blind person's pet dog absolutely must have a full-time job as one's guide. I mean, sure it'd be helpful, but an alternative arrangement is certainly not impossible.
So if I have indeed missed seeing or saw and misperceived these blind persons with non-guide dogs, then, how much other plainly obvious stuff is there out there in everyday life that I've got wrong? Whatever amount it is, I have to assume its effect is relatively benign. But it's unnerving to consider how inaccurately one may be seeing the world. It's biological fact that literally no one can see things though an other person's eyes, so it's natural to assume you see things just fine because, after all, what are you going to compare it to?
I'm not talking about this on an optometric level so much as a cognitive one. If one's vision were a TV or movie screen, let's say, the problem wouldn't be that you didn't see all that was in the frame. Instead, the image in frame simply would be either constantly moving or changing to a degree that you didn't have time to ever properly comprehend what you were seeing.
As I write this, it's about an hour before I go over to my friend Andy's house to work on editing a short film with him. It makes me think that it's no wonder I've increasingly come to favor slower-paced editing. If a music video is on one end of the spectrum in terms of rapidity of cutting images, and Jim Jarmusch is on the other end of the spectrum, I'd definitely be closer to Jim than I would to MTV. I think part of the reason is I like to be have enough time to contemplate what I'm seeing in the frame before moving on to the next image or the continuously unveiling moving camera frame.
Incidentally, this brings up a question of whether it's better to review movies on video or in a theater. On video you can rewind and thus reconsider aspects of a movie more easily. But a theater is the intended visual experience, and a superior one because of the size of the image and the quality of its projection.
Anyway, now if only I could remember the importance of seeing everything when when I'm looking at the window--or peering occasionally from around my computer screen. Come to think of it, while I've been typing this, I've probably missed a lot.