Attention Matters: An Addendum and a Twist

In 2011, I wrote a blog post about Attention that has been shared and discussed many times in the last 5 years. It even got reposted on Rebelle Society a year or two ago.

I still believe it.

All of the things I said in the original post still resonate as true to me.

Attention matters.

The people we love, the dreams we want to grow and feed, the pets and places we care about. All of these things demand and deserve our conscious, concerted, undivided attention.

We “pay” attention just like we “spend” time. It costs us energy to pay anything attention.

Addendum: On Attention and Privilege

I prefer to not watch the news. I prefer to keep my head in the clouds (or the sand) when it comes to the vagaries of day-to-day ratings-chasing.

When someone commented on the post on Rebelle Society that it was a belief based in privilege, I had to own it. My comment back was “You’re absolutely right.”

I’ve been sitting with this fact for months, and while I watch our national attention focus on vastly different things depending upon our beliefs, I’m honing this stance.

Sometimes, it’s important to see what things everyone else is paying attention to.

It can be even more vital to pay attention to what everyone else is not paying attention to.

The stations that play news for a given audience don’t cover the same topics as the others. Fox News and CNN don’t cover the same topic from different angles. They send their reporters to completely different stories.  They cover completely different things.

I don’t want to give either of those channels my valuable attention, honestly. But sometimes, we can’t afford to ignore the things we would rather not give our attention and energy.

Now For the Twist: Attention and Action

I’ve already said that it’s totally okay to feel complicated.  The stages of grief are real, and a lot of people are experiencing them. Other people are a little confused about that response.  It’s good to sit with your ands, to cook with your emotional juices brewing around you. That’s the path to transformation and growth.

But I’d like to challenge you to this thought: It’s 100% completely possible to be consumed by feelings and still act.  Not only is it possible, it’s quite likely the best way for us to collectively move forward.

Fear is paralyzing. So is grief. So is surprise. Get off your ass anyway.

I have a dear friend who lost her 43-year-old husband suddenly this year. She’s got two small sons and has been thrust into single parenting in the midst of her own grief. Fear. Shock. Did she want to curl up in a ball and quit? Sure. But she couldn’t. She had kids to feed. She had work to go to. She had a dog to walk.

If widows and widowers the world over have figured out how to keep moving through their grief, you can, too.

Now here’s the tricky part. What are you going to do?

I recommend circling right around to the beginning of this post – attend the people, places, and things that you love.

….but that’s too big….

My mind and thought patterns tend toward the big picture and the long-term.  When I was a little kid, that meant I nearly always had a sense of complete overwhelm when faced with a project or idea.

My mom wisely taught me the Serenity Prayer in response to this tendency. I use it to this day.

What can you change?  There’s your to do list.

As for me, and my house

I’ve been quiet on social media lately. Partially because I felt like I had nothing to add. Partially because I’m still sitting with a lot of my ands and anger. I’m truly trying to live out what I’ve been saying – compassion and empathy for everyone – and honestly, it’s not easy. Empathizing with people who trigger me is really damned difficult.

Discerning the broader picture behind current events is also hard for me right now. The Hamilton thing feels like a distraction from the Trump University settlement. I’m irritated that one side of news is only talking about hate crimes on at-risk groups of people, while the other is only talking about people rioting without any context or historical perspective. If their audiences heard both accounts, it would be very helpful for Americans at large to understand one another.

And I really don’t wish to pay attention to any of that shit. I’d rather just finish writing this novel and buy pajamas for the cats (this year’s Christmas photo is going to be EPIC). I’m balancing the fact that I don’t have the luxury of keeping my head in the clouds, and the effort of paying attention to the things I hold dear.

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One thought on “Attention Matters: An Addendum and a Twist

  1. Pingback: What Do You Really Want? | Alicia K. Anderson

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