Managing Your Attention, pt. 5

[This is a series of posts consisting of useful stuff Kat learned to avoid drama, manage life and act like a grown up. YMMV.]

At this point, rather than post a bunch of links, just go here if you want to read the previous stuff from the beginning.

Alrighty then. In the last post of the series, we dropped the following little tidbit:

Life is attention. 

Now we’re going to explain what we mean by that.

As humans, we have what is called a consciousness. Our consciousness or mind or what have you is basically summed up by saying “our field of awareness.” This field of awareness includes sensory data (“I smell bacon!”),  emotional reactions (“I love bacon!”) and conscious thoughts (“I wonder if he’d stab me if I tried to steal his bacon?”)

Some people naturally gravitate towards paying attention to the things going on around them. Some are more drawn to their own inner thoughts and feelings.

Some people can be aware of lots of things at once (see Patrick Dempsey’s character in the movie Flypaper). Some people hyperfocus and can shut out all but one or a few things from their field of awareness. Most of us live in the spectrum between these two extremes.

But in a practical sense, your life consists of everything that passes through that field of awareness. One 24-hour cable channel that starts the day you tumble out of your mom’s womb and ostensibly ends with a clip show as you’re exiting this life.

“Life is attention”means that functionally, your life consists of whatever you’re paying attention to. Whatever you point your attention at, you’re giving a slice of your life to that thing. Or, since I’m determined to work pop culture references into these posts, that thing has sucked one unit of your life away.

Paying attention to an email from your boss? That was one little slice of your life you gave.

Paying attention to the mosquito bite itching the crap out of the bottom of your foot? There went another sliver of your life.

Multitasking? Imagine slicing up little slivers of Life Pie and slapping them all on the table in front of the three or four things you’re doing.

Moving on to a few framing questions:

  • If life is like a 24 hour cable channel, then is it Comedy Central, Lifetime, or AMC?
  • Have you seen YouTube videos where a horror movie is turned into a comedy or vice versa, via clever editing, voice over and mood music?
  • Think a moment about the role of a director in a movie.
  • Consider the role of an editor in a novel, TV show or movie.
  • How is the story’s meaning influenced by the context and framing, rather than the events themselves?

We’re going to take a quick breather with the next post, and expand a little on the idea of “taking constructive action in spite of your feels.” More of a “How” post and less of a “Why” post.

After that, we’re going to get all heavy and stuff discussing THE MEANING OF LIFE. Or something similar.

Bring popcorn.

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