We already talked about some of the escapist strategies we perform, mostly even without noticing. Talking was one of them. Attention can have a similar function. In the case of talking, we slide into a pillow of words, moving further and further away from what we want to say. We find shelter by distancing ourselves from the experience and eventually losing the thread of what we are actually saying. Attention works in a similar way. It stretches us away from the experience and uncomfortable feeling that accompanies that experience. It becomes a place to hide and avoid internal or external confrontation. Objects, memories and external experiences take a role of soothing agents an antidote to presence.
Outsourcing the self can be appealing, you don’t have to feel shame, guilt, responsibility, pressure, confrontation or any type of other uncomfortable emotions triggered by an experience. Numbing by paying attention to something outside distracts from undertaking an action that is coming from your own need, there is always something else to look at. We don’t have to do anything, the objects and experiences just coming at us all the time. The relevant question to ask: What deserves my attention and who decides that? We all experience that our attention has market value, there is a real competition for it, nevertheless even knowing it is precious, finite and formational we give it away sometimes for nothing but short lasting rewards processed by the brain. Those who fight for the attention ruthlessly use our psychological vulnerability exhausting this resource leaving us in scarcity.
Attention is a limited resource, there is only a certain amount of it that we have. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the important function attention has - to brings things into awareness, shape us who we are, what is relevant and important. When we spend all of it on something irrelevant for us, helping the benefiting party to gain profit, we are left with nothing for ourselves. Empty, unsatisfied and powerless with unexciting and unfulfilling lives full of things we can’t connect to. Stretched in all directions with a weakened core - we lose our centre as we are aways outside of ourselves. Daydreaming, taking a nap on the couch of consciousness,
To be fully present, to have an experience of being in the world, one must be conscious. When the rider sleeps, the elephant is awake. The elephant never sleeps. But where does the elephant wander? What grabs her attention? From all possible directions, what determines where she goes? Seems like someone knows and uses it already. We need to wake up and start catching up in this asymmetrical game we are playing without conscious consent. If we are able to understand, truly understand how the elephant makes choices, we can shape the landscape she wanders in and become gardeners of our own attention; beautify the landscape, fill it with the plants and trees that are relevant to us.