Yeah, I don’t really have a quick answer for that but it seems to revolve around concentration. This includes making 2750 free throws in a row. Concentration is something I find I lack. Part of this comes from my addiction to technology. But part of it is deeper and relates to the negative affect the modern world has on our evolutionary instincts. In the past, things that grabbed our attention kept us alive. Hmmm, is that a saber-tooth tiger or a palm frond? Let’s run like fuck, just in case. And hopefully, I’m faster than you. Which I am. But that’s a different story.
Today, things that grab our attention do just that, steal attention away from the important things. It’s all around us. It’s a sick addiction, one that some of us happily wrap a big rubber band around our arm for and ask for more. But it makes us smaller, less interesting, less great, like all addicts. Funny thing is, it’s damn difficult to counteract. It’s hard to over come evolution, even if it’s killing us now.
I think that’s why I find writing so difficult now. Even in my journal (which I haven’t written in for 3 weeks or so-ack), after 15 minutes, I’m dying, mentally itching to be distracted or find another task that takes less time and much less attention. This is a fucking stream-of-consciousness-journal-about-my-boring-ass-life for god’s sake. How much less attention can something take? Well, there’s always the internet. Or unloading the dishwasher. Or having another drink. None of which is anything I’d ever want to have written in my fucking obituary.
I read an article once about life that said it (life) should be made up entirely of things you’d want written in your obit. But those things take attention. They absolutely completely fucking command it. And yet, we’ve overdrawn our attention account and can’t write the attention check to manage 15 minutes in a journal. How do you make yourself attention rich? Beats the living hell out of me but if you find out, let me know. Technology makes life easier and better but it also makes it cheaper and not in a “Everything’s cheaper on the Interweb” sorta way. It makes it cheaper by increasing the things that demand our attention, yours and mine, and steals it away, divides it into tiny little meaningless increments that add up to a life no one in their right mind (or left brain) could ever write an obit about.
That makes me sick. And yet, like any addict, I feel almost powerless to change it. Trust me, if there was an attention methodone pill, I’d be down at the clinic every day at the crack of dawn begging for it. But there isn’t. The only thing you can do is remove things that demand attention until the only ones left are important. Do you understand how impossible that is to do today? Can you fathom not having a cell phone? Internet at work? Jangly, shiny things at Wal-Mart? No, you can’t fathom it. Because it scares you. And it scares me.
That’s what addiction does, it makes you think you can’t survive without it. It steals time away from what makes up life and turns it into worry and fear. Addiction allievates your fear of committment. It takes strength to live life unaddicted. More strength than most of us have these days. When was the last time you spent more than 30 minutes doing something that required your full and utmost attention? I’d wager this is a bigger epidemic than obesity (and that’s saying something these days).
The amount of addiction in your life is inversely related to the amount of attention in your life. Which side of the scale is heavier for you?