Thursday, February 24, 2011
I’ve been paying attention lately to how hard it is for me to pay attention because it’s come to my attention that I’m not very good at this. And, by “this” I mean really focused attention that catches details and remembers them
Bear with me: I was recently watching Star Wars Return of the Jedi, and there is this moment where Chewbacca, the big dog like guy, is swinging on a vine with a little Ewok creature and, while they are swinging, Chewbacca (or the Ewok) makes the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan YELL. If you don’t know what that is it’s okay because that’s not the point. The point is, I’ve seen this movie more times than is reasonable in any number of universes, but this was the first time I noticed this Tarzan thing. I mean, it’s meant as a cute joke, it’s really obvious, and it stands out like a sore thumb. I have seen it countless times and I NEVER noticed it before.
It seriously, seriously makes me wonder what else I’m missing. This “event” has me thinking about this attention thing. I can be looking right at something and not really see it. I can be listening to something and not really hear it. And I think the problem is that I’m not PAYING enough attention.
When I talk to people or read books or watch movies, I often don’t get the details. I have this automatic thing going on where my mind is filtering, getting the gist of what’s communicated, and summing it up into main ideas. In the process, details are lost. I don’t do this because I don’t want to listen. I don’t do it to be mean or disrespectful. I do it automatically. I can’t remember not doing this. I sort of gather the big idea and the details float off into the ether. I think it’s why I can’t remember names and why I have to go back and get details when I need them.
Can you say, “ADD?” I knew you could.
I don’t really know that I have ADD. Or that I don’t. But it has me thinking. I’m ruminating on this in a distracted sort of way. I’m thinking that true, detailed attention costs us something. That’s why it’s called “paying” attention. It costs us time and energy and focus. To truly “pay” attention to one thing, I have to not be paying attention to something else – that’s part of the cost – and this is definitely not an easy thing for me. It’s not natural. I can’t even sleep some nights because my mind is going, going, going. When I ask someone what they’re thinking and they say, “nothing,” I hardly believe them because that has never been true for me. I’ve never personally experienced it. Unless I’m sleeping. And, even then, I dream.
So I’m practicing. I’m trying to tap into the “feeling” of detailed payment of attention. I’m trying to keep my mind from wandering while I do things. Trying to keep myself from thinking about something else. Focus. Like a laser. I am a cat. I am attention personified...
So far it’s not working, but if they find me unconscious, on the floor, with a little pool of drool under my head, you’ll know what happened.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011