There’s a road nearby that I travel, to get to Roseville from my little city of Orangevale, several times a month, Roseville Parkway. In all the times I’ve driven it I’ve never noticed that much of it has sumptuous median plantings; including trees, thick and multi-layer bushes and brick trimming. It is really quite lovely. By the maturity of the trees, you can see that it was groomed and planted over several years. All of the trees are all still quite young, but the potential is there for a lovely leafy drive one day.
The other day, I was almost startled awake from my unconscious steering of the car by so suddenly noticing this feature of the parkway that I slowed down and nearly pulled over, thinking that I was going the wrong way – since I didn’t remember the median growth at all.
After I got over the feeling of being lost, I resumed driving, mindful of my surroundings. What I saw was a very deliberate attempt to beautify a six-lane thoroughfare through a suburban and sometimes even rural area and whoever had undertaken this attempt had been successful. I enjoyed seeing the variations of both plants and design.
Then I found it sad that a governmental agency had gone to the trouble of doing what so many of us demand – making our common areas more attractive – and I hadn’t even noticed. Additionally, I found it upsetting that I had driven this way so many times without seeing it.
As a writer, I am most effective when I’m a good observer, not only of human interactions but also of my surroundings, both real and imagined. So, to know that I had driven blindly past such a distinctive landmark, repeatedly, was truly unsettling.
It is the unseen things, which we writers point out, that make readers so interested in what we have to say. That really is a big part of our job, bringing forth the unrealized, unnoticed and laying it before our audience for their inspection and enjoyment.
I’ve been shaken awake by this experience and honing in on my surroundings and the reactions of others in wholly new ways. I only hope I can hold on to this new awareness of things unseen and never again slip back into that state of not being present.