Where Do We Place Our Attention?

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” ~ Brené Brown

“Social media is something of a double-edged sword. At its best, social media offers unprecedented opportunities for marginalized people to speak and bring much needed attention to the issues they face. At its worst, social media also offers ‘everyone’ an unprecedented opportunity to share in collective outrage without reflection.” ~ Roxane Gay

“Whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life.” ~ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

I’ve been thinking a great deal over the last few months about what I attend to. I’m not quite sure when I started to become wary of paying too much attention to social media, but that’s one aspect of what I’m talking about. Though, I think spending my attention wisely has been a big part of my life for many years.

When Barry and I were looking for land to buy to put our manufactured home on, we searched for a place that had gorgeous views. Luckily we found land surrounded by three mountain ranges. It’s a pleasure to wake up to see the colors of the sunrise, or marvel at the sunsets in the evenings, to see the clouds coming over the Huachucas during monsoon, or the various wild creature friends meandering through our yard. 

A few years after we moved into our house, we met the man we bought the land from. He asked us if we still appreciated the views from our house and we said yes. “But why do you ask?” we said. “Because I find that when I see people some time after they buy their land, they say they forget to pay attention to the views they so valued when they purchased it in the first place.” I found that sad. 

Since I started my podcast, Story~Power, I have been thinking a great deal about how to get it noticed. It feels scummy to use social media to try to gain paying followers, yet I would like to get some kind of financial support for all the work I put in. It’s a dilemma I’m struggling with. What is more important acquiring income, or connecting with other human beings who are trying to figure out stuff just like I am?

Not long ago, I heard about a book that I thought might give me the answers I’ve been looking for. It’s How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell. In the book she writes about the damage the capitalist mind set of productivity has done to us. We don’t take time to connect with our friends, family and immediate communities because we’re expected, or even driven to produce more. We don’t connect with nature, or even ourselves. Her idea is that we need to take time to put down our phones, get away from our computers, and just do nothing even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. We need to do this not so we can be more productive, but so we can become an integral part of the world.

Right after the 2016 election, Odell felt frazzled by all the whirling media. She comforted herself by going to a nearby rose garden almost every day. At first she just sat, but soon she began to watch the wildlife, and watch how the garden changed with the seasons. She’s become an avid birdwatcher, but not in the traditional, “I’ve got to tick off the birds I’ve seen on my life list,” kind of way. No, she wants to have a relationship with them by seeing how they change throughout their life cycle, by being able to identify the song of each different species. She even started a relationship with two black birds that now visit her almost every day. She’s gone to investigate creeks, hills, and mountains that were in her periphery throughout her lifetime, but now she feels need closer examination.

What does all this have to do with social media you might ask, well, she wrote that on most social media platforms the posts that go through our feeds have no context. They are random posts meant to grab our attention and maybe even our emotions so we’ll click on the news story, or the health site, or business page, which allows those entities to gather information about us so they can bombard us with stuff to buy. She goes into great detail about how the way social media is run is detrimental to our wellbeing in so many ways. One of the ways is that we might fail to make real and lasting connections with those around us, including the natural world.

Odell published this book right before the pandemic hit. I think if she were writing it today, she might acknowledge that we’ve changed as a result of having to work from home, be with our families 24/7, or being forced to be cut off from friends and family. This disruption of our old lives has fundamentally changed our perspective about what is really important. 

I’m only scratching the surface of things she brings to light in her book. I highly recommend it to any of you who have had the same feeling of discomfort I’ve had in the way our societies have been going.

Reading this book has made me ask the question how do I make more meaningful connections even with the people I meet on social media or my podcast? How can I appreciate not only the natural world around me, but the history of the place in which I live?

Part of my intention in starting both this blog and Story~Power was to learn from other people. To hear their stories, share commonalities and examine differences. I want to create caring connections while at the same time publish my thoughts and conversations in hopes that they might help other people as well.

I’m trying to wade through all the noise that seems to permeate our society so I can hear how to be the best service to myself and others. I don’t have all the answers yet. I feel like being careful about what I pay attention to day by day is one of the best thing I can do. I can also continue to listen to my creative voice and share it and let the Universe take care of the rest.

Thanks for reading. Welcome new followers. I hope you are doing well.

Blessings,

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Lucinda is also the host of Story-Power a podcast where she and her guests discuss the stories in all formats that have changed their lives. It’s available here on Sage Woman Chronicles and on Apple, Google, and Spotify podcast apps. Please rate and leave a review. It helps people find me 

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Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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