How the Wrong Focus Can Lead One Astray

This morning I was typing an email to an old friend and told her I’d been following her exploits. Only I typed “explotits” instead. Which, you know, isn’t really the same thing at all.

But surely it should be a thing.

Thus: your Arbitrary Word Challenge for the day: use “explotits” in conversation or writing.

Fortunately, the helpful pointer out of wrong words flagged it for me. You know what I mean – that squiggly line that pops up under words the almighty computer doesn’t have in its databanks. I rarely use Spellcheck, because I’m a spelling snob that way. (Amusingly, I have an existing label for “Spellcheck, but can’t recall why. Clearly I have a fraught relationship.) But if the squiggly line shows up, I know I misspelled the word somehow. Or I made it up. It’s kind of a 50/50 proposition that way.

The other day I tried to typed “unparalleled” and got the warning squiggly line. Not terribly surprising since that’s a hard word and I sometimes forget how many r’s and l’s should be in it and in which places. So I tried adding an l, but the squiggly line persisted. I subtracted a couple of l’s to no avail. I frowned at the r, pretty sure there should be only one. Determined to figure it out, I played with the l combinations some more.

Finally, exasperated with myself and that I’d spent so much time on it, I resorted to Spellcheck.


I’d left out the n.

Yeah. I’d typed “uparalleled.”

Because I’d been so focused on those l’s and r’s, I’d never bothered to go back and check the whole word for stupid misses. This is what people mean when they say you “can’t see the forest for the trees.” You get so intent on particular pieces that you fail to expand your view and see what else is there. What you might have missed.

It’s a good thing for me to keep in mind.