My dear ones, how has the 2018 been treating you so far? I hope you are doing well. Do you have many ambitions for this year? I personally reduced them to a single, yet a big one. I want to PAY ATTENTION. If you didn’t lose yours after reading the headline and keep reading, maybe you would understand why.
I want to pay attention to everything I choose to do. It’s so hard these days, to really focus on the things we are doing at a moment. Whether it’s a conversation with a friend, reading an article or a book, watching a movie. We often fail in making correct evaluation of all kind of information or observations. There is such a noise not only outside, but, especially, inside us.
We battle against the feeling we are missing out, constantly worrying about something, planning, doing several things at the same time, desperately trying to be more efficient, getting the most out of our lives.
Our minds are restless, distracted. What we achieve with that mindset, is the exact opposite of what we want. We are missing a lot. I think it’s safe to say, that we often lose a whole point.
I’m sure, that those, who invented washing machine, dishwasher, phone etc. thought these things would help people to get more time and doing more purposeful things. Things like getting educated, having interesting hobbies, quality time with the family or friends, enjoying long walks etc. Only aristocrats used to be privileged to do more of these activities, in the past. But we way too often don’t use the technologies to get these benefits. It seems they helped us to become oblivious and to procrastinate more than ever.
To-do lists should save us from that, but even those can be tricky. They drive us to focus on the activities we can check off in a short time.In some way, they can discourage us from more abstract and deeper tasks, however more important.
Like travelers, who come to the destination with the list of sightseeing they need to see and take a photo in front of them. It’s easy to check off the visited monuments and places – Colosseum, Fontana di Trevi, Spanish Steps… We can say “done” or “checked”.
But what about things like – understanding the circumstances under these monuments were built, get to know the culture, have a meaningful conversation with a random local etc.? It’s not that easy and moreover, it’s never that clear, whether we truly accomplished them successfully. We can explore the culture for months, but can we claim we truly know it? Could we potentially check it off from our list?
With enough self-reflection, probably not. And still, it doesn’t matter, we don’t have this clear outcome. We experience something uncommon, we do maybe invisible, but a real step forward. That’s all that should matter. For that reason, I have a tough relationship with numbers. Like, how many countries have you visited. Like it was a relevant information.
As a journalist and analyst, I’d sometimes spent days and weeks studying certain topic, collecting and analyzing data. I had nothing to check off from my list, except reading huge amounts of information, feeling like I’m not even half finished. It was making me nervous, this lack of tangible results. The feeling of a certain satisfaction came only after the article was done and it lasted usually no more than few moments. Then the whole process started all over again.
the second outfit RED DRESS/from HERE
As Slowly As Needed
We tend to avoid especially the types of responsibilities, that require a lot of time, by procrastinating. I’m super experienced in this discipline. I hate remissness and avoid it in all areas of my life, yet I feel the need to calm down my mind and focus to the process. I need to accept the fact that all great things require huge amount of time and work.
Whenever I pour myself into the activity, manage to stay focused to what I’m doing, it feels great. But it’s not easy. It’s as difficult as hell. The restless thoughts try to disturb me with some (countless) help of external stimuli, to distract my attention towards something easier, fun and usually more or less pointless.
I recently started reading a book I loved few years back. As I was reading, I realized, how hard it was for me, to stay concentrated. I was feeling like it’s not effective enough.
Reading all the detailed descriptions of the people and environment? I felt rushed to simply scan it fast and get into the point. But that was completely wrong. Those ingenious descriptions were the amazing part of that book. They were the point. It was what I loved about it and what had been shaping my imagination. I always remembered the names of all the characters and places, years after, and, also, how they looked in my imagination. I want this type of focus back. In many cases, it can be fine to read just quickly and focus to the important parts, but not in fiction.
Therefore, I choose reading a fiction now, not the self-help books, with the bullet points. I do my best to focus and read it properly. I even started to read a poetry a bit. It didn’t use to be my thing that much, but I feel that’s exactly what I need right now. Few poems from Apollinaire or Prévert here and there. Something, that challenges my creativity and my senses, increases my sensitivity. I also focus more to the conversations, cuddling cat … to everything I care about. I’m trying to do things for real, in every moment possible. That is in my opinion living the life to the fullest.
If you think I must have got a plenty of time…no, I haven’t. I have lot to do. I just try to eliminate shallowness, things that don’t bring me anything valuable. But once I decide something deserves it, I try to pay my full attention.
In case you manage to read this article to the end and get the point, you are probably quite fine. You don’t have to worry about your ability to focus much. But I bet, you are just a part of a small percentage of those who landed on this page. Many of them either missed the point of this text, while the rest just watch some outfit photos and the text being far too long to read, at this super busy day.
© Creative direction and editing: DANIELA RIFAI Photos: DANIELA RIFAI, MARTIN JESNY