Attention

"When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." George Washington Carver
It’s uncanny what we notice when we fully pay attention. Instead of speeding through life, darting from one thing or place to the next, paying attention allows us to notice the subtleties of life. It’s in the subtleties where we can witness the details that make all the difference. Have you ever looked at someone’s face? I mean really looked. Examined it, studied it, learned every facet, nook, and nuance. Memorized it as if you would be tested on it. There is so much communicated on the faces of those we spend time with. The brow furrows, crinkled noses, ear lobes wiggling, and everything in between, they tell us a whole lot when we take the time to pay attention to them. Sometimes it becomes so dear that it almost seems inappropriate. There's noting quite like watching the raw emotion dance across the face of someone else. The way that someone's face lights up when they talk about love, the heaviness that hangs on cheeks recalling devastation, and the curiosity of someone behind their eyes contemplatively trying to understand - that's the beauty of paying attention. We see people. We hear them differently. We experience them in all their raw truth. We get to read them, read between their lines, and read in their notes, doodles, and quirks in the margins. 

Paying attention pays dividends. There is nothing more that people seem to value these days as much as the attention being offered to them. What a rarity to give your undivided attention to someone else in a world that constantly vies for it. When was the last time you you wholehearted paid attention to another person? When was the last time you just existed with another human being? When you were just there intertwined with them in all their complex simplification? When were you last deeply invested in a conversation because all involved were fully present? People are yearning, desperate, pleading for the attention of others. People want to know that they matter, and that they matter to us, specifically. We have to communicate that, and live that truth out loud. Gifting others your attention is a bold declaration of care, consideration, and effort. It looks different for every one of us but universally there's this indescribable connection forged or strengthened when we have intimately communed and communicated with someone where the attention was just with us. It's a uniquely human experience, and one that doesn't happen enough. When was the last time you conversed with someone, fully attentive, and felt moved by it? If it has been a while, why? Who is in our vicinity most often, what do those conversations look like? 




Multitasking is a myth. We can do multiple things simultaneously but in actuality we are more efficient when we consistently do one thing at a time. Maybe we feel so depleted of what we are able to give because we leave so many tasks, projects, and even people unresolved. We don’t get enough closure. We don’t give ourselves permission to move on. We pile on more and more until we reach our limit. Our capacity to perform, to show up, to give ourselves is only as large as we allow it to be. Instead of sowing seeds haphazardly and failing to reap them we should sow sparingly, and harvest what we have nurtured. A healthy crop or showing up genuinely with all that we have to offer is better than a field of mediocrity or barely being present on a variety of things. More often than not it is worthwhile for us to limit what we're doing. We can't do everything. We can't be amazing all the time. We cannot go above and beyond for everyone. It's okay to just be. It's okay to be regular. It's okay to be good enough. 

How do know what's worthy of our attention: Why am I doing this; how do I feel before/after doing this; what am I getting from this experience; how does this align with my values; who is validating and giving back the same energy



Some people don’t want our attention, they want attention in general. They are not interested in where it comes from, but rather that they receive it - regardless. There's an ephemeral exploitation there. If we don't give them the attention they demand from us they leave us, meanwhile have no intention of reciprocating.  While there is nothing wrong with wanting attention from another or others, our attention is not something we should give out freely or frivolously. We should be sparing in our attention. When we choose to give our attention to something or someone it should be purposeful. What do we care about? What is proximity? How much of ourselves will it cost? What's the time? How do we feel about giving out attention away? When we start asking those questions it gives us something to think about when we do have the opportunity to choose where our attention goes. Who or what are passionate about? Who are people you drop everything for? What is a call that you will always answer? Why? When we have that gauge for the things that we feel most ferociously for then we can always know how vivaciously we should feel when we choose to give our attention. If we're investing our time, energy, and effort - it needs to matter. X

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