The fact of finite resources, limited ability and attention and short lifetime durations means that I (experienced or observed) can want to be ‘focused’. Who and what focus is on seems to depend on self-identification and intentions, as well as the context and conditions.
Physically, my visual, auditory and sensory focus is often limited, with the rest filled in with projections or memories that are seconds or minutes old in a way that fools me into thinking I can attend to much more at once than actually. I ‘know’ there is a bookshelf in the periphery of my vision while typing at my computer, but I don’t actually experience it itself or any detail because it’s a conceptual reconstruction.
Where and how attention, time and resources are focused seems to define the potential for moving in a direction or moving forward. Being conscious of the questions, assumptions or intentions held enables choosing and prioritising amongst them (or identification of additional alternatives) and appropriate resource allocation.
Sitting in a cafe, in conversation, noticing attention shifting between what’s being said, my evaluation of it, related memories, avocado, the sound of a car passing. For the conversation to move forward, my focus shifts to the unknown space of possibility, opening to perceive what’s prior to the experience of this moment.
Focusing on assertion (e.g. of identity, knowing) has it’s merits as being foundational for ‘me’ surviving (e.g. knowing how to cook, what to do, how to distinguish myself from others, being an expert in my field). But it’s recognising and soaking in what is (e.g. true, being assumed), and what isn’t that seem to bring us together and show a way forward, beyond present conceptions, limitations. Reaching for the stars and opening to what’s possible is life-creating. And can seem unreal, abstract or inappropriate if ungrounded in care for the present situation (e.g. present social context, life demand, abilities).
Kitesurfing or rock-climbing with grace, both require deliberate grounding and alignment of force through feet into water or rock, and a-tension through one’s body to the hand reaching or lines extending skyward. Hanging and flying is fun and ‘free’ yet can’t be sustained indefinitely, and at the same time keeping feet on the ground or on the (sure) shore is anti-thetical to progression. Having insights into the nature of communication isn’t of much interest or value if you can’t communicate those insights effectively.
Sharing of intentions, questions and current fascinations is a way to engage and align with others who may share the journey. And, acknowledging the fact of our finiteness and fitness, caring in my asking and demanding of another’s attention seems a fundamental kindness. If shared questions and inquiries are asked well, if invitations to join a journey are carefully constructed, there is immense potential to tackle questions and aspirations far beyond our individual imagining.
Sometimes “I” have questions. The question being new to me doesn’t mean it’s unique or unanswered! Blurting it out in a forum or meeting as an interruption, without noticing others asking or the context is…disruptive. Paying careful attention to the formation and clarification of questions, I realise there is plenty of instruction available for those questions whose answers are “known” to humanity but not me (e.g. books on innovation ecosystems, courses on memorisation, local experts in etc.) and for those unknown (to humanity and me), there are communities of interest, fields and disciplines already inquiring in that direction.
While focusing, doing those few things faster and better, together sounds attractive it is a mindset that likes answers and pays attention to what’s valued and able to be actioned. It’s the next question (yet unknown) that seems to have no value than for itself that may be more compelling and the direction in which real revelations, insights and innovations emerge from. Real learning: seems to need both: both discovery and application; invention and innovation; appropriate application in the present, finite, context and moment, and being open to the timeless, formless, mystery of existence.
Image Credit: Alison Gopnik Lantern vs Spotlight http://alisongopnik.com