The beagle and the F train

There is a beagle who rides the F train. Curiously calm, he (I believe he) moves through the tunnels footless, perched on the slippery seats in his flat-bottom canvas tote bag.

Unfettered by person traffic or delays. Sniffing and blinking at movement. Staring, unafraid to make eye contact with passengers. No one returns the beagle glances. On the F train, beagle passengers are nothing to see.

The beagle has license to make eye contact with the stranger who sits across from him. Staring, perhaps a bit too long. But the non-etiquetted world of him suggests no rules for human behavior. Beagle benefits.

The beagle yawns openly and loudly. 14th Street passes, mundanely, ordinarily. He shows he is unimpressed, while we hold our expression stony. Does he know his stop, like he knows his home territory? What comes of the bagged beagle outside the subway car?

This week, the inimitable Frank Chimero led a workshop, “Noticing is listening with your attention,” to kick off the semester at the MFA Interaction Design program:

Noticing comes from being available in response to the potential of a task, a job, a situation, an environment. This mindset is something one chooses to have, and is honed over time with practice.

This workshop will act as an introduction to a process of sensory exploration and mental inquiry as a result of what is noticed. A demonstrated understanding of noticing, and the collaboration necessary to do so well, will be not only valued, but required.

As I rode home from the last day of the workshop, I saw the beagle. Finding remarkable what we don’t notice. Sparkly specks on the floor, the swinging of feet, things we take not notice of. Paying attention. His perspective gives him a different perspective from our perspective.

And that attention, is something worth noticing.