Thought For The Day #205 July 2013
Broadcast5th of July 2013 on BBC Radio Bristol
When the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Hollywood film Jurassic Park breaks free, it hunts down two of the main characters who are cowering in a jeep in the dark and rain. The calm, knowledgeable Doctor whispers to the understandably panicked young girl, “Don’t move, it can’t see us if we don’t move”. Although we may never know if dinosaurs could actually only see moving things, it does allude to a well known feature of animal brain function, namely that we find it harder to perceive things that don’t change. A classic example of that would be new shoes; for the first few days we really notice the feel of the shoe on our feet, but after a couple of weeks it’s just as if they’ve become an extension of our body.
I’ve had a “new shoes” feeling this week from seeing all the colourful Gromit Statues that have been put up around Bristol. They’re helping me notice the city more, as if I’ve taken on some of the curiosity of a tourist. Of course this blindness to the familiar doesn’t just affect our vision, but also our day to day routines and close relationships. I’m sure we can all recount instances where accident or illness has jolted us into understanding the significance behind the old saying, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.
So what are the metaphorical ‘Gromit Statues’ in our lives that help us actually see the wood for the trees? I’m sure there are lots, but the most important of them is the one that helps us see the most familiar thing possible – the startling fact that we are alive at all.