The invisible beard

When a friend recently shaved off his long-term beard, a number of people who knew him asked, after looking at him quizzically, whether he’d got new glasses.

They knew something about him had changed but despite a beard being a pretty significant facial feature, it was surprising to hear how many were clearly oblivious to its existence.

It wasn’t as if the covering was mere (sorry) bum fluff—he’d sported a full-on bushy beard.


We do, of course, tend to notice things more when they change, even though we may not always be very good at identifying what exactly it is that isn’t the same.

Our attention is drawn to situations that have changed since we last encountered them.

I’m sure this had evolutionary advantages.

To your early ancestors, a newly broken branch could have indicated the presence of a hidden predator.

Notice it and they survived (and ended up passing on their genes to you).

Miss it and they were prehistoric toast, long before any gene-transmitting opportunities presented themselves.

Taking notice of the world around you offers bigger benefits than simply ensuring your personal safety, however, because doing so has definite mood-enhancing potential.

You may believe that everything stays the same, but look more closely and I think you may discover that your surroundings are subtly altering all the time.

Keep your eyes and ears open.

There’s plenty to see out there.

3 thoughts on “The invisible beard

  1. It’s a recurring theme on your posts this one Jon and, I must admit, one which has taken me a long time to ‘get’. The first time you talked about being observant to the world around us, it was met with blankness by my brain, whereas often I immediately ‘recognise’ and relate to what you’re saying. But I’m slowly starting to understand and starting to practise it, and I have to say, it’s a revelation to me! It makes me feel child like and ‘in the moment’, two things that are just not very compatible with depression at all. I’ve always thought I was an expert in ‘me’ but it seems I’m not. Who woulda thought! Also highlights the power of subtly repeating something, in slightly different ways each time. Thankyou as ever. Sally S.

  2. I noticed on Saturday that some dahlias, left out over the winter, were showing their first tiny leaves, pushing aside the soil to see the sun. It’s given me a lift that will last. Now every time I look I swear they’ve grown a bit more.

  3. When Sally ( above) started with “it’s a recurring theme” I thought she was going to criticise, so I’m glad she added “power of repeating something , in slightly different ways each time.”
    I do agree that the penny doesn’t always drop at first, or because of where you are at on your journey, etc, so it’s very important to plug away at something so significant. It can literally be life changing.
    Thank you Jon. You certainly know what you’re talking about, don’t you! 🙂

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