10.13.2010

our sphere of awareness...

SPHERE OF AWARENESS
we all have a sphere of awareness
we all need to expand our sphere of awareness

no... this is not a THINK GLOBALLY... ACT LOCALLY sort of idea
this is more of a measure of anticipation of the variables around us

when walking... when driving... when riding the bike
when sitting in our office
when at home in front of the television
in all these cases there is what I am dubbing "a sphere of awareness"

our technology of the modern age has done something to close down our "sphere of awareness"
people are dim to what is right in front of their faces

it is my contention that we should have an alertness of what is immediately around us... then do a short flash of expansion of our field of awareness at various increments
focusing on what is close and what is coming up quickly

sort of like walking through the hood after dark
but everyday and everywhere

what am I talking about?
here are some examples
okay... some show and tell to try and better express this thought

when a person is walking down the sidewalk it seems that people are seldom looking any further then where their foot is about to touch the pavement in front of them
when really...
people should be walking with a certain level of AWARENESS
anticipating the approaching variables instead of being shocked when people or things enter what is their personal space

knowing what is next to them... what is behind them... and of course what is approaching them and what are they approaching

sadly... people are tuned out by tuning into their electronic devices
texting... talking on the cell phone... playing that "soundtrack" to their lives on their iPods
all of these actions collapse people's sphere of awareness
these people are not aware of their surroundings in the moment
like zombies they move about the sidewalks
getting startled by the approaching runner... walker... delivery person... or whatever

concrete example?
my kids on their bikes are often a startling variable to people on the sidewalks

we can be cruising down the sidewalk along side Connecticut Avenue or maybe 16th Street
the visibility can be a long line of site
the approaching children on their bikes can usually be spotted by more than a city block away
but most people do not see them until they are underfoot

the people are often shocked... some are energized and angered
when really... they should have anticipated the approach of he other sidewalk users

we are usually past and gone before they respond
my kids are cute and polite
so there is usually no confrontation
but... there is the chance that the spooked idiot or spooked asshole could at the last second move erratically causing a collision with my child on the bike

this would not be a concern if people just expanded their sphere of awareness

this sphere of awareness is not just for the people on foot
this is also a concept that applies to the person driving a car
WOW!
so few people can see past their dashboard
when really... they should be doing quick flashes to anticipate variables off into the distance
while constantly revising their anticipation of variables in their immediate sphere

car drivers should be looking beyond their steering wheel... past their PDA or CELL phone... which should be set aside... which should be turned off and in their bag
the car drivers should be looking at the parked cars on the road side
checking each parked car for tail lights or the silhouette of drivers who may be about to open their car door

car drivers should be checking for pedestrians getting ready to cross mid block
car drivers should be looking ahead at the intersection... looking for people on the corner or approaching the corner
altering their speed in anticipation

it there is a child or even a dog on the road side
the car driver should take these variables into account
adjust accordingly
maybe slow their speed or alter their focus
expecting the unexpected

but no... usually car drivers put the pedal to the metal and hold their course
never altering their speed
never considering slowing their trajectory

the sphere of awareness should be expanded
the car driver could move more efficiently if they looked forward and further

as a cyclist I find that tailgating cars would do well to look forward
pay attention to the color of the light at the intersection ahead
be aware of the line of cars that they are about to link up with
have a better understanding of the dangers of their actions and the ineffectiveness of their efforts

a better understanding of an expanded sphere of awareness would assist in this
rather than their childlike competitiveness to be in front of the cyclist

as a cyclist I feel I move about the city with a expanded sense of my sphere of awareness

riding the bicycle in the city is not a daydream
it is more of an intense game of focus with some pretty serious stakes

as I ride my bicycle around town I move about knowing that most of the people on foot do not expect me to be approaching
that their sphere of awareness is closed off to such a point that they do not anticipate the fast moving cyclist
that they are not going to be able to respond to the bike until the bike is right on top of them
so... I look for them and then think for them

expecting them to step out in front of me
being ready for mid block pedestrians

as I roll down the right side of the road on city streets I try not to ride too far to the right
trying to stay out of the DOOR ZONE

always looking for brake lights
always expecting that car ahead on the right to pull out right in front of me
checking each driveway... each alleyway... each intersection for right turning traffic pulling out in front of me

my sphere of awareness is altered by my location, my speed and intensity, and the time of day

my focus on the bike needs to be in the immediate area around me
dodging pot holes and squirrels
while also seeing far enough ahead to anticipate the variables long before I approach them

when coming towards an intersection I am looking at things long before my tires roll over the stop line at the stop sign

I have already altered my pace... if it is a four way stop I have already thought where is the best place for me to put me and my bicycle

if there is right turning traffic
well... then I will pass the line of cars on the right
if it is a four way stop and there are no cars approach the intersection... I glide through with little more than a tap of the brake levers

each intersection gets its own evaluation

where on foot, in a car, or on a bicycle I know that my actions are not ballistic
everything is up for revision
there is not need for an anxious level of attention or focus
but... the day dreamy auto pilot trajectory is dangerous and should be avoided

this off the top of my head rant is something that I feel should be developed
a video in PSA form
driver's education for new drivers and continuing drivers
professional drivers especially

this expanded sphere of awareness seems so obvious to me
yet... most people move about the streets like zombies
unaware of anything except for the tip of their noses
not existing in the moment but traveling in some electronic nether-land

enough on this
need to focus on some tasks



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