Reflection 260: Divided Attention

May 3, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin

The morning of March 20th began as I had hoped. The sun rose brilliantly from low clouds out over the ocean. I was with a group of friends conducting our annual vigil on the equinox to mark the divide between the winter and spring of our souls.

20054403a-96But from that high point, I have never gotten my act together as coherently as the signs that day seemed to indicate I would. The American spring of 2012 has turned out to be far busier and more complicated than I imagined. So much to do; so little time. In late March, my son Ken and I built a new ramp for the boathouse so I could get my boat in the water and row to the island where I knew stillness awaited me so I could work on this blog. But April has come and gone without that happening.

Last evening, I and two others spoke briefly before the Bar Harbor Town Council to prepare the way for delivery of a petition asking that body to stand with communities across America in defending democracy from the corrupting influence of corporate wealth on the electoral process. I pointed out that corporate “personhood” and money as “free speech” are metaphors, and in taking them literally, the Supreme Court has based its decisions on wishful thinking or out-and-out deception. I compared the effect of the Citizens United decision to toxic emissions wafted into the air by Midwestern industries, which Maine residents inhale at every breath, poisoning the climate in which we vote.

I find myself torn between taking action against the ills abroad in the land and tending my little blog as I would a plant in my garden. Which makes the best use of my limited energy: healing the world or healing myself?

April went by like a shot. Two hearing tests, four senior college sessions on consciousness, figuring my taxes, four Occupy general assemblies, eight meetings, a watershed conference at which I gave a presentation, PetchaKutcha Night in Waterville (another presentation), several talks, and so it went. Not that it was a lot of work, but it was different kinds of work so I kept shifting gears to keep up with myself. As the month went on, I found it harder and harder to concentrate on yet another new thing. For a week now I haven’t updated my blog. Or gotten used to the refurbished iPad I plan to use on the island to post to my blog—that is, if I can get away. I am new to iPad technology, so have yet to figure out how to use a machine that comes with minimal instructions.

Which is boring because it’s largely a matter of technical details, not substance. These days, our technology changes so radically and readily, it’s hard to keep ahead of the learning curve to maintain productivity, much less increase it. The technology of pencils and paper hasn’t changed since Thoreau took up the pencil-making trade over a century-and-a-half ago. Electronic gadgets morph into new versions every few months. For myself, I think in trying to keep up, I simply sidestep into a maze of diminishing returns. 

I am torn, trying to keep up as before, but never reaching the goals I am aiming for. Take a break, I tell myself, get away from the melee so I can rely on skills I already have without having to get stuck on square one yet again, stifling even the possibility of engagement with anything that matters.

So here I sit; how about you? Are you able to keep engaged and feel you’re moving ahead? If so, how do you do it? That’s it for today. As ever, I remain, y’r friend, –Steve

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One Response to “Reflection 260: Divided Attention”

  1. andrew767 said

    It is easy to mistake persona for consciousness, there are only some many hours in the day and so there are only a limited number of social causes we can act on.

    But consciousness is a virtue of character, whether you were raised by parents of such character or you have had to discover the virtue by means of other life experiences. i.e. Although you have to make a daily choice about how to spend your hours, consciousness is a measure of how we respond to whatever we meet during our daily path; do we ignore moral issues in preference for more popular issues?

    Here is an example for you, if I reveal a genocide which your government is committing – will you say “it’s none of my business” or will you manage a better act of consciousness ?

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