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Taking Note

By the time the average college student makes sophomore grade, at least one thing should have been learned. No matter how tenuous one’s grasp is on reality on any given day, the world will stop for a split second as soon as a professor utters the fatal words “Take note, people!”

I don’t have a clue where the phrase began. For my purposes here, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether an individual is able to do the task.

In a world which revolves around speed, competition, and one-upsmanship, a person has to cultivate the practice of taking note. The fortunate person develops the ability early in life; hence, my reference to college sophomores and professors. Observation skills can always be used in daily life. Be honest. Without them our species would have died out long ago.

I bring up the subject because some of us stumble across oddities everyday simply by using the practice of observation.

Take last Sunday evening as an example. Sis and I were at a concert in the park. It was a lovely evening; light breeze cooling temps hovering in the low 80s, people out enjoying the camaraderie of the crowd—lawn chairs in hand—and the music.

And there, in the midst of wonderful musical notes filling the air, a mosquito landed on my forearm. I whacked the little sucker, smashed it flat, and felt vindicated, all in the space of three seconds max. I know what you’re thinking. You think all I took note of was the fact that it was a mosquito.

Wrong! I took note of the fact that it didn’t whine at me. This is something that has been “on my radar,” if you will, since we moved up to Montana. I was taught as a young person that only female mosquitos whined. They were also the only ones that supposedly drew blood from their victims. Since returning to this state last year, I’ve learned that around here, mosquitos are now different.

They weren’t like this when I lived here in the early nineties. No sirree! Always before, they whined like every other variety of ‘skeeter known to man. Not anymore.

I’d taken note last year that around here, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you hear a whine or not, the ‘skeeter will drill you for all it’s worth. Sunday night I had two of the little beasties try for the red stuff in a span of ten minutes and neither of them made a peep of sound.

Trust me; I can hear those devils in a twenty-foot radius. Nada, zip, zilch. No whine.

So, what changed? Are male mosquitos here now drilling prospective donors? Did the females finally learn that their shouts of potential ecstasy warned their perspective donors? These are the kinds of questions for which grant monies are doled out.

Remember that one-upsmanship I mentioned earlier. Well, Sis did it again. The next evening she went out to snap some sunset photos. As a photographer she’s got that camera ready at a second’s notice, and she loves doing sunsets.

As a trained observer, she takes note of things on a regular basis. Her background demanded that skill. When she finished shooting, she came back in with this little observation “Sun’s in the wrong place tonight.” She didn’t wait for any answer from me. She dropped the statement and went into her office to process photos.

Familiarity has bred acceptance into my responses about many things. This happened to be one of them. I questioned, not the validity of the observation, but the degree of wrongness involved. She informed me that the sun was a good 20 degrees off the lateral plane of normal position, based on the sun’s position the previous evening. She did qualify the statement by saying that it could have been an optical illusion. Whether actual or illusion, the sun was back in its proper place the next evening.

You see what I mean about taking note. Just because something seems impossible doesn’t mean it is. It also doesn’t mean that it’s possible. It is only an observation, after all.

The ability to observe is within everyone, regardless of other talents or abilities. We’re living, breathing entities. The fact that we respond to stimuli testifies to our ability to observe. Whether we pause to experience the observation depends on our awareness in that second of observation.

Eckhart Tolle is best known, perhaps, for discussing this fact. If you take time to read his work on the subject, you will learn something of why these two observations of ours have been added to our mental notes.

Each day provides opportunity to take note and learn about the world. Take time to enjoy the process. Until next time, a bientot,


  1. August 30, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Right on!

  2. September 3, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Excellent thoughts

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