As promised, here are some of my past experience which helped me solve the problem. Please do tell us your experiences.
1. Gestalt Therapy
My undergraduate degree was in psychology where we learned about many different approaches to conversational therapy. One interesting approach was that of Gestalt Psychology which holds that the mind forms a global whole (a gestalt) with self-organizing tendencies. Or that the whole has an independent existence from the parts. In perception they emphasized separating experiences into figure or ground. The validity and use of the theory, is not my point here, but a hint.
In my 7 years in Japan and after, I was enamored with the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi. From an article on Wabi-Sabi, I found this quote.
“Herein lies the secret to a wabi-sabi gardens: the background is as important as the foreground; the unremarkable has value as a backdrop for the remarkable.”
3. Optical Illusions
Again, keeping with my interest in the mind and its untrustworthy nature, I have always enjoyed optical illusions. Here are too that involve the notion of Foreground and Background switching.
4. WeiQi Life Death Problems
Lastly, my life-long interest in the Oriental strategy game of WeiQi requires me to look bast the obvious — the notice the background. See this post.
Since I was young, I have been fascinated by the poor conversation styles most people use, and use very comfortably with each other. My medical practice and personal life has shown me that often times it is what a person is NOT saying that is the real story.
Hope those acted as good clues. See you in the solution post.