21 March 2018

Living Woke

Wake up, raise your level of awareness. It’s a real, physical thing you can do. How do we do that? Why do we do that? 

We wake up when we pay attention to what's going on in the present moment. When we wake up, we experience our lives completely, through all of our senses, with all of our beings.

When we’re sleepwalking, we’re still paying attention, but we’re spending it carelessly. We’re not paying attention to the effects of our thoughts and actions. We’re playing along, but we’re not aligned with our purposes and values. We’re only using parts of ourselves and letting the rest go along for the ride.

Attention is all we have. How do we want to spend it?

That is the question. Whether in quotidian concerns or in the development of a grand vision, we spend it. When we spend it on activities, we become better at them. We shape our physical realities by what we pay attention to (and what we don't). We take care of the things we pay attention to and neglect the things we ignore.

I play the viola episodically. Most of the time it sits ignored on the top of the piano. I spend my attention elsewhere. I get better at other things, and my viola-playing hangs out at the barely literate level. If I wanted to play the viola publicly, I'd need to step up my game.

The dreamer imagines success at something, but doesn't spend attention actually doing the thing. The dreaming takes attention, but it's not the kind of attention that actualizes anything. 

I’m not happy with some of the things I’ve spent vast amounts of attention on. My attention went nowhere or it fed an end I didn’t want to realize.

It’s hard to wake up! It takes effort and energy, a willingness to question and shake things up. It risks much, and doesn’t let us hide behind our facades.

Waking up, recognizing the truth of our actions, how they actually affect ourselves and the world around us, is hard work! Paying attention to meta issues both makes us pay more attention to our daily existence and analyze it. Analysis always requires paying attention. Whatever issues we choose to work on get the juice. They grow and progress.

What will I spend my attention on today? What thoughts and endeavors do I most want to realize?

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