Friday, May 14, 2010

Spotting RED

So here’s the thing. A mental experiment.

 (If you have no idea what I am talking about, scroll down to the previous post, or press here.)

This experiment / experience will cost about 2 minutes of your life, but will add multitudes, believe me. (Please don’t charge if it doesn’t....). Also it is both harmless and non-toxic.

The aim is to illustrate my last posting: shadows are not just evidence of gloom. "Where there is much light, the shadow is deep,” said Goethe (quote kindly submitted by Marion). Which is also to say that where shadows are extra dark, sunlight is also extra strong. 

But to let the shadows come, and to focus on them, are two separate things. As similar, and as opposite as the North and the South Poles.

This experiment, by the way, demands some discipline on your side. When you see these words STOP READING, then do exactly that, stop reading. Do not peep further down the post till you have done the required.

Okay. So off you go into a room where there are lots of things and colors and mess, ideally a place where you don’t go very often - a shed, a loft, your husband’s or wife’s or dog’s secret hiding place, the garage. Anything will do, really. 

Then, with your keen eyes, spot anything and everything containing the color RED. Memorize these items, and then come back to the screen. STOP READING!

Are you reading these words without having hunted for the RED?

If so, go into the corner - or doghouse - and find a few red items. Memorize them. And come back.

So. How many things RED can you remember? Depending on your shed’s content, of course, I’m sure you can recollect at least 4 items. Or 7. Or even as much as 9 (or 10 if you’re a genius!): The red letters on the insect repellent, the red cork on the soda bottle, the red covered paperback, the red feeding bowl, the red plastic watering can.

Yes? How many?, you are a genius.......

Now then, WITHOUT going back to the place of red, tell me all the things you noticed which contained the color BLUE. Yes, blue. How many this time? 1? 2? None???

Well, you’re normal. Most people will have one or two things on their list, despite the blue being right next to the red: The blue spray can with red letters. The blue shelf with the red cork bottle. The blue paperback next to the red paperback. The blue can of dog food next to the red feeding get it.......

For this is the thing. You notice what you focus on. If I ask you to make notice of every single minute of rain next week, you will diligently spot every single drop that falls on your ground. The sun will just be that thing in the middle of the sky. You will forget to count the sunny minutes. Sunny hours. Sunny days.


So, what is the most prominent feature of this photo here?

Photos © Grete S. Kempton


  1. Water with a double shadow in it.

  2. The light, that which produces the shadow, it touches everything - even the shadow. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. you~

    (and now i'm looking back to re-see, not the room, but my life. i see this working its way in so many ways. and so it is that much truth can be derived from retrospect, but what of it?)


  4. Knowing this was a challenge of sorts I walked into the room and tried to cover all the bases. What the red objects were, where they were in the room, the number I could see, etc.

    But and but again, never the association to another colour, how the red worked with another colour. how the colour related at all. It was isolated as we do when we think through a pin hole camera. Fuzzy and narrow.

    This was such an interesting *test*.

    Has me thinking about how 'open' I really am.

    Thank you.


  5. Oh, Marion, hahaha, I was trying to ‘trick’ you into seeing the sunshine, but, well, yes, you’re right of course, it’s a double shadow, shadow producing shadow. I was going to be very, very clever here, saying that if you stare into shadows, they produce more shadows.....or something like that.....

    Indigo - now, that’s my kinda’ answer, the light, of course the light, the light......! But without it there would be no shadow, and no double shadow either.......we’ve gotta accept them both.....

    Erin - ah, the mystery of times gone by. What of it? It is never too late. For anything. I keep looking back. Always. And I know there is never one view point. Choice! To gradually see that which I could not see before. For my eyes were not big enough. Now, with a little help from spectacles, I see clearer and clearer......

    Robert! YES! You did the experiment! I was soooo hoping someone would.......Thanks! When this “test” was presented to me, I was awe struck! I was so so so eager to be the good girl and remember all the red. When the question of blue was raised I didn’t even think of my blue jeans! That day was a D-day for me. Of course, D-day was not the day of liberation itself. And lots of killing went on in the weeks to follow. So its not exactly a picnic, conquering back your own territory.... But for me, knowing that what I focus on, is what becomes reality, was like sending in all those troops....(why am I using war as a metaphor? You ask me....)


  6. Grete, I'm definitely a shadow person. (I wrote a poem about my shadow's shadow last year and am still hunting for much stuff...) I'm also a fair weather person. I'm happier in the sunlight than in the rain (except for today...we finally got a nice rain after 2 dry months). I went into my living room to do your experiment, but lost count because I have so many red books! I thought to myself, "Go into a room with no books..." But, happily, there are no rooms in my house without books. LOL! A great experiment, for sure. (And thanks so much for the poem you shared at my latest blog post. It's perfect for my color-splattered Caladium.) Blessings!

  7. Well I wandered about in our study looking at red ... red everywhere, mostly on the spines of our many books, but lots of other places too. Did I remember anything blue? Yes, but only because I do notice stuff. The thing that pops out at me from your picture is the funny fuzzy line around the blue on your shadow, why is it a different colour I ask myself. So you see ... I notice stuff.

    Shadows. Without light there are no shadows, and no shade. If you are in your shelter and the roof lets in light, it also lets in rain. Not all light is good news.

    I read back through everything in your May postings Grete. Very interesting conversation about living with fear without being overwhelmed by it. Letting it be what it is and thus it changes ... lessens. Yes, very interesting.

    Makes me think which can only ever be a good thing. xx Jos

  8. Marion -

    You seem to be the outdoor person grateful for the multitude of weathers.... as long as your plants thrive :-)

    And books in every room, how great is that! Even the shed? Perhaps something like “The Secret Lives of Plants”?

    Jos -

    To notice things is certainly a good thing. And even better is to know that we can chose what we want to focus on of all the things we notice.

    I’m glad you noticed that little fuzzy line. That was my favourite part of the photo.

    Yes, open roofs can let in rain. And some light has a disagreeable angle, and distorts whatever is in its way. And too much sun makes the skin go burnt and blistery. Not all light is good news. I agree.

    Though mostly I thrive when days are long and nights are only the small interludes.

    Blessings and xx back!


  9. Grete, you write and photograph beautifully. Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog which in turn led me here. So glad I came, I will be visiting again.
    Great experiment - I saw no blue in my junk room
    In your picture I saw the blue figure.

  10. Nicky -

    Thanks for walking over from the South Downs to here!

    Yes, the experiment hardly ever fails, most people will concentrate so hard on the red they forget all other colours. When someone did it to me couple of years back, I was totally shocked about my focus being THAT selective!

    The blue figure - interesting.....For me it’s mostly the yellow..... :-)