Opinion: Heightened awareness


Anything we do frequently enough helps us develop a knack it. We notice signals imperceptible to others, less experienced than we. Some of us can divine the impending arrival of a summer rainstorm. There are those who can instinctively read the frustration of a domesticated animal and use that insight to improve behavior problems. Many of these “pet whisperers” convert their unusual skills into lucrative careers.  Their second sense becomes second cents.

More commonly, we simply develop awareness of the many humble patterns all around us. If a step is missing, we subconsciously take note. No doubt, it is an echo from the day when observing the absence of singing birds or frolicking of woodland creature would tip us to the approach of an alpha predator. These few extra moments of warning might be enough to keep us alive. Frequent commuters will predict the time it might take them to arrive at their destinations within a few minutes of starting the drive. And many road warriors will know, nearly as soon as the crew, if something is wrong after the passengers have boarded an airplane for takeoff.   

As the crew scurries about, cabin doors are closed, oxygen mask instructions given and familiar chimes sounded, we prepare for takeoff.  If any is out of place, we sit up a little, become more alert and look for irregularity. The jetway is removed from the plane but we not backing away from the gate. Why? The crew is not seated. What gives? Experience is a good teacher. It illuminates the shape of things.

The captain comes on the intercom to tell us that a mechanical problem requires that we return to the gate. Groaning at the inconvenience, we turn to our companion and self-assuredly remark that we “knew that something was wrong.”