Nothing makes me more upset than watching a person, stuck in life, hoping for or responding to a text message, and checking a device every few minutes in anticipation. Each glance, each text that distracts takes a tiny piece of new possibility away. And it is here that our “Free Attention” gets chopped down by the axe swing of distraction.
I so badly want to slap that phone away and yell “Give your brain a chance to recover and breathe!” No matter the content of the text it saddens me. I know, just as the vigilant phone checker knows, that nothing life-changing will vibrate, ping or alert its way into his life. There is no potential emergency more real than the one occurring as life passes by… character by character, emoticon by emoticon, second by second.
Distracted, overwhelmed, lost, and stagnant describes too many of our lives. A state of being, that is sad within itself, becomes downright depressing when the realization occurs that these life sucking situations are self-inflicted.
The good news is that we are vaguely aware that the critical progression of which we are in desperate need can be generated from within.
The bad news is that we are completely blind to the fact that this new creation depends on our ability to balance our levels of commitment and free attention.
Our blindness to this leads us to waste days desperately attempting to stay within various states of “committed attention” in hopes of progressing towards a good life. Unfortunately, fatigue sets in and we find ourselves engaging in what can only be described as a weak attempt to stumble across the finish line.
This futility is on display as we constantly engage in readily available text messages, emails, news updates, and other “information” sources – a feeble attempt to stay in the game, thus preventing the rest and recovery required to win it.
If you treat your body like a machine it will behave like one. Leave it in a state of “free attention” and it will go nowhere. Keep it in a state of “committed attention” and it will heat up and burn out.
If we would just sit still we could go so much further.