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  • Writer's pictureJ J Hanna

"You see, but you do not observe."

"You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear." -Sherlock Holmes, Aurthur Conan Doyle A few days ago, a few friends and I went to a live room escape game. Yes, it was as fun as it sounds. Being locked in a room for an hour with planted clues to help you get out? Definitely worth it. The first clues were easy enough to find, numbers inside monkey candle holders, words highlighted in a dictionary, a number written on the back of a painting . . . But as we got farther and farther, we had more and more codes and we lost track of what we had tried on the numerous different locks. We discovered our different skills. One of our team was great at focussing on inputting possible combinations onto the locks, another was extremely skilled at finding things. (She says it's because she loses things so often, so she's had lots of practice.) Yet, even with all of these different skills, because we did not stay organized and got super excited when we got into the second of two rooms, we failed to complete our task. Our one goal was to get out of those two rooms within the hour. We did not complete tasks quickly enough, or we had to try again, or it took too long to decode different messages. In short, we failed. We ran out of time. There were four specific keys we had to locate, and we didn't find one of them in that hour. Somehow we had all expected to be good at this, to be able to get out easily. But that's not how the room was designed. We made the mistake that Sherlock scolded John for making so many times. We saw things: we saw the phone, we saw the table, the chalk, the clocks, the books, the cabinets, the chairs, the monkeys. But we got stuck there. We couldn't find a way to connect anything, until we found the piano bench. Had we taken the time to actually observe the room without moving in a scurry, we may have realized that it wasn't just some sort of oddly shaped bedside table, and that it indeed opened. As it was, it took us a while to realize that it was even there. In fact, it took my friend climbing underneath it looking for anything odd and pushing it up accidentally in her attempt to stand back up. We discovered one of the major clues in that room on accident! We were so excited by seeing everything that we missed one of the most important parts of the room. I, for one, got extremely distracted by the phone. I picked it up, held it to my ear, pressed the buttons. I did everything I could think of to make that phone make noise, ring, or speak to me. I'd hoped that if I typed in the correct code somehow I'd end up getting a hint murmured in my ear. It took me the better have of the hour to realize that it wasn't even connected to a power source or phone line, and therefore there would be no noise coming from the receiver. My challenge for you this week is to go through life and observe. Take the time to know for certain what clothes you are wearing, so that if someone were to come up to you and say, "I like your shirt," you would know exactly which shirt they were talking about without having to check. That, or knowing how many stairs are in one flight in your home. This seems silly until you're walking down those stairs carrying something large enough that you can't see your feet and you just have to go by trust, hoping that when you get to the bottom you'll just know. In short, seeing is good, but observing is far better. Take the time to observe.

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