Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paying Attention

Taking time to take notice of my surroundings is something I do every day. It is essential to pay attention at school, work, driving, crossing the street, and many other times when our lives and livelihoods depend on it, but when it doesn’t, many just have tunnel vision or hearing. The chaos of modern life makes us that way; I believe New York City is a perfect example of a metropolis that is filled with people who have made tunnel vision and hearing an art. As a one-time inhabitant and frequent visitor, I understand why; there are too many distractions in the city, and so people must stay focused to get to their destinations.

Many times we use this tunnel view in our relationships with other people, especially when things start to go bad. I am currently in a situation where I cannot afford not to pay attention to someone in my life, because when I did in the past I suffered for it. Paying attention to what people are saying, even when they are not speaking, and other changes in our environment allow us to adapt and survive, ultimately. I have a friend who is in a terrible marriage, and others I know, she will not pay attention to how irrevocably broken her relationship is. She wants to prove to herself and others that she can keep everything together; she is paying attention to keeping up appearances, rather than to the truth.

Personally, I can only pay attention my own truths and those in the world around me, even if they are not pretty. While some might think from reading this that I see myself as enlightened, which would not be true; I am incapable of not paying attention. My own Mother told me that I have never lost the ability to observe and react to my observations in truthful ways. As an adult I know when not to express these truths to certain people and at particular moments, but I haven’t lost the ability to be observant to my realities. I hope I never will.

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