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Peggy Barnhardt: Inattention blindness — do you have it?

Peggy Barnhardt

Why don’t you ever lose stuff you don’t want? Maybe because it would go without notice? You wouldn’t be tediously retracing your steps, recounting your movements to ascertain where you left it, looking high and low, clutching every glimmer of hope of finding it.
You wouldn’t be searching relentlessly, even in places it couldn’t fit, and questioning family members, mentally assessing whether someone could have moved it.
No, you never have to go through this rigmarole for things you don’t want — because they are always accessible, glaring in your face, in spaces that could be used for desirable, functioning items. The junk is available at every turn, sticking with you like white on rice. In times of conscientiousness you try to discard it, but it seems to multiply, stalking you like unsolicited telemarketer calls.
Those red plaid framed glasses you were forced to wear at age 10 that you accidentally left in the department store? You said your goodbyes and good riddance — only to have them surface from under layers of camouflage to be returned to your mother the next day. But I digress.
Or that trunk full of re-gifted treasures destined for Goodwill that seems to grow with each passing event? Always there in plain sight.
On the other hand, things you need and use regularly are among those misplaced most often, lost at a moments’ notice. You can have them in hand, lay them down and instantly they become integrated seamlessly into the surrounding environment to become imperceivable, invisibly blended into the scenery.
My cell phone is the main character in this saga. I have a specific place for it, but it likes to travel.
Though it might be directly in front of my eyes, I can’t see it; and of course it never rings on these occasions.
I can, however, take solace in knowing I am not alone in this frustration, Psychologists have a name for this phenomenon — inattention blindness or perceptual blindness.
Other items like to join in the ruse to keep us rummaging: keys, glasses, business cards, bill statements, earrings, the dish rag and pens that actually write — all vacationing in the land of the lost at some point. You know you are a victim when you start to talk to yourself, questioning your sanity, knowing full well you had the item just minutes ago.
Chalk it up to old age, multi-tasking, absent mindedness or short term memory loss; still, the eventual discovery and recovery of something that has been facing you all of the time leaves you feeling dumb.
So for all of you that have been there and done this I wrote a poem of comfort.

Land of the Lost

Down in the valley, all covered with moss
Is the mythical place called the land of the lost.
This place is older than time itself;
You can tell by the trinkets and junk on the shelves.
From where these things come, the places are varied,
The entrances are many, the exits a rarity.
For everything empties to the land of the lost;
In looking and searching I’m always engrossed.
The washer, the dryer, the hamper; who knows
Where are the singular items of clothes:
One sock, one shoe, one glove, one hose,
To the land of the lost is where it goes.
Perplexed I am, absurd to some;
I put in two and it comes out one,
To remove its regular clientele,
Suppliers, the kids and pets as well.
Then the land of the lost will stop its tout,
And the children grow up, and all move out.
Then the doors of this place to my house will close,
And some other place that is predisposed,
With children, and pets, and plenty of clothes;
One ribbon, barrette, and one shoe in repose.
A mother stands looking in wonderment,
Asking where these things might have went.
Victimized by the Land Of The Lost.

Think about it.

Peggy Ann Barnhardt lives in Salisbury.

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