Attention!

The only thing you have to do in life is pay attention.

Oprah Winfrey

About a year ago now, as I was walking towards an elevator door, a funky thought occurred in my head. It sounded almost like a “Trainspotting” tagline. “This is my life”, I thought, “This is actually my life”. It was just one of them thoughts that seemed to be too simple to be noticed, but somehow – I paid attention to it.

There is a massive difference between knowing things and truly comprehending their meaning (I think it can be described as an epiphenomenal qualia , but that’s a different subject altogether). Comprehension requires attention. And what I was experiencing at that particular moment in time was precisely that – I was balancing on the verge of comprehending what these four words meant: “This is my life”.

I realised back then that I could easily continue going up and down in this elevator on my way to take cigarette breaks, which, ironically, became the only time when I could actually “breathe”; I could continue spending my time living by somebody else’s agenda, conforming to the values that have been imposed on me, without any sense of purpose in life (but with a decent pay-check) and endlessly question “why can’t I be happy?”. I could continue to pretend that what really matters to me – doesn’t really matter (because it didn’t seem to matter to the surrounding world). Or, and this was a revelation to me, I could create my own agenda. I could assign meaning to my life according to a new set of values. A set of values I had in my heart. It only just occurred to me back then that I actually had control over my own life which I always thought I KNEW, but never quite COMPREHENDED it before.

As a sensitive type, I was always prone to acquiring different viewpoints. Which is a quality that has enriched my life greatly for it’s a gift to be able to see life through somebody else’s eyes – to truly relate to people, to feel what they’re feeling.  Many times, though, this quality has beaten me off my own track. To the extent where I couldn’t tell what’s true to me, what values I cherish. To the extent where, to put it in a more poetic language, I was deafened by the noise of the surrounding world and couldn’t hear my own heart-beat. To the extent where I started to doubt if there was any point to my existence and, to be totally honest, I wouldn’t have minded if I had to cease existing altogether. And if it wasn’t for that thought at the elevator to which, for some peculiar reason, I paid attention – I’d still be doubting my existence.

Many things have changed ever since that important moment in time, but one thing is worth mentioning –  I started seeing things differently. I started paying attention to my own life. Don’t get me wrong, my life these days is still a bumpy roller-coaster ride, triggered by the endless swings of emotional ups and downs, but now it’s my ride. It’s a journey I consciously choose to embark on.

Without a doubt, as you continue on your own  journey through life (whether it’s an elevator-like or more roller-coaster-ride-like journey) the number of people who want to impose their truth, to tell you what’s important, will be much greater than the number of people willing to support you on your authentic path. But you have the right to choose what you PAY attention to. In the most literal sense – attention is your currency. It’s the only currency that has real value in life and the good news is – we all have our  share of it. So spend it wisely: invest it in yourself, in your own thoughts and feelings, in the people you care for. As for the rest of the world – if you have any attention left to pay, carefully consider what are the investments worth making.

 

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