The poet Mary Oliver writes that the way to live a life is this: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” I love the poem, but it convicts me. I worry that I’m losing my capacity to pay attention.
Just as I spend hours toggling between different windows in my web browser, I flit from thought to thought, task to task. In order to focus on one thing, I have to intentionally withdrawal myself from the distractions. It takes effort.
I’m far from alone in this; Nicholas Carr’s 2011 book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, was acclaimed as a “Silent Spring for the literary mind.”
I worry about this because I believe that paying attention is important, and not just for my productivity at work and for my relationships with those around me. I’m concerned with the ways my “monkey mind” affects my spirit.