• joshua chamberlain

paying attention

I was working on an art piece recently and found myself so focused on the finished product, I didn't pay attention to the details along the way. The result was a piece that didn't come remotely close to match my intention, all because I was focused on the product and not the process. I wasn't paying attention.

I'm about halfway through reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in which an autistic teenager attempts to solve the mystery of a murdered pet. In one passage, the protagonist reflects on the nature of details and how most people fail to notice them:

"...most people are lazy. They never look at everything. They do what is called glancing...and the information in their head is really simple. For example, if they are in the countryside, it might be:

  1. I am standing in a field that is full of grass.

  2. There are some cows in the fields.

  3. It is sunny with a few clouds.

  4. There are some flowers in the grass.

  5. There is a village in the distance.

  6. There is a fence at the edge of the field and it has a gate in it.

And then they would stop noticing anything because they would be thinking something else, like "Oh, it is very beautiful here," or "I'm worried that I might have left gas cooker on," or "I wonder if Julie has given birth yet."

This seems like such a profound truth about our world: we all struggle to be present. We're always thinking about other things. We're always distracted.

Cell phones and computers on make this worse. As companies are competing to occupy space in our brains, we're texting while talking on the phone, sending emails in meetings, and scrolling through Instagram while watching Netflix. No one stops to do one thing at a time. No one pays attention.

If anything, we could all stand to unplug, stop, breathe, look, and listen a little more. I wonder what we'd discover.


Recent Posts

See All

lightning rod

It's often said that certain kinds of success are comparable to getting struck by lightning. This might be true, but there are ways to attract lightning. Just ask Ben Franklin. When the storm rolls in

give and take

I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of my relationships. It seems there's often an implicit code that dictates a friendship should be transactional. I do something for you and you do some

the importance of being earnest

Spotify has a habit of suggesting podcasts. There's one in particular that gets recommended to me over and over again, with a title something along the lines of "Your Favorite Band Sucks." Why would I

©2018 by joshua chamberlain |  photos by gabrielle boltz of gabriell.e.lizabeth studios | created with Wix.com