Capable of generating great wealth or poverty, delight or misery, wisdom or folly, knowledge or ignorance, skill or incompetence, this most valuable possession is all yours. Though someone is trying to take it away from you almost continuously, they cannot succeed without your permission. Any idea what it is? Attention. Your attention.
These reflections were triggered by a speaker who used the phrase “pay your attention.” It made me think, “Yes, my attention is actually mine.” And “pay” is a good verb. It reminds us that attention is something valuable, and something we choose how to spend.
How much attention do we have? Is it something you can accumulate like wealth? Not quite like wealth, perhaps, which we measure in quantity. But we can increase the intensity, focus and quality of our attention.
Like gold, attention has the value of a limited resource. But actually, the limiting factor is not attention but time. In each moment, you have only a limited supply.
What if instead of “pay” attention we thought in terms of “investing” our attention. That might be more accurate. Attention + Time = well, Everything. We are the product of what we have given our attention to for how long? And what we have not given our attention to.
“Pay attention!” said the teacher. “But I am paying attention!” said the little boy.
I don’t think anyone has an attention deficit, per se. Attention is there in abundance. We are just “paying” our attention to something or someone else. “Pay me your attention!” says the teacher. Ah, there’s the rub. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t.
The most important task of life is learning what is worthy of our Attention + Time.