You can see a lot from looking.
(Thank you Bruce.)
Okay, Yogi, why don't we observe things? Why do we pass through life barely paying any attention to the world around us? What a waste of eye sight. Many remarkable things happen which no one notices.
Everywhere one of my neighbors goes he stares at the sidewalk in front of him. An angel could fly over his head he wouldn't know it.
Part of an actor's training is a very difficult observation exercise. A row of chairs is set up and filled with students. Another student observes them for a minute or two then turns his back. Those in the chairs rearrange themselves and take different poses. Then the student turns around and has to restore everyone to their original positions and poses. It is much more difficult than it seems at first and teaches the student to be very careful how he looks at things.
All during the actors life he will observe people. Observing people is an enjoyable experience for most everryone but for the actor it's also work. One never knows when a simple action a person may make will become something the fills out and compliments an entire role.
Some things that people do are automatic. When a man enters a room wearing a hat, if he takes it off he may straighten out the hair on the side of his head. When a woman sits down wearing a skirt or dress she generally scoops her hands under her backside to straighten out the skirt so it won't bunch up or wrinkle. I saw a woman do that once even though she was wearing slacks and didn't need to. It was automatic.
We do those automatic gestures on stage but we do them purposely. We make them look automatic so you will believe us. That way we help to add dimension and reality to the role.
And when not on the stage? When I was in shape I used to know how many tables there were behind me in a restaurant and how many diners there were at them, how many lamp posts there were between my home and where I worked and how many steps there were on the back stairs, a good thing to know when they were covered with snow.
One evening at Christmastime I was traveling back here from New York City. A man got on with three large bags. He put two of them overhead in the rack, but there wasn't room for the third one there so he put it up in another place. I was sitting two rows behind him with my backpack next to me. He may have been nodding off but he wasn't ready when the train reached his destination. The train had stopped and was about to leave the station when he realized where he was He jumped up and grabbed the two bags over his head and started down the aisle toward the door. In his rush he had forgotten the third one.
I was evidently the only one who had noticed where he put that bag. I got up and called to him about it. He turned and started back but I told him to get to the door and keep the train from leaving and I would bring the bag. I did and he told me the bag was full of the Christmas gifts for his kids. He was very grateful. He got off the train with everything.
When I got back to my seat there was a man sitting in it. As I approached he stood up and said "I sat here so no one would steal your backpack." I thanked him and he went back to his seat. Two people being alert, looking and seeing things saved a lot of property.