I opened my eyes early in the morning, it had no idea about the time, but I felt like I had rested long enough, so instead of reaching out for the phone this time I sat on the bed to meditate.
Something had changed, the voice was a little quieter, and ceasing the mind brought pleasure. The body begun speaking, my nerves reaching out all the way to the tip of my toes. I felt refreshed and got out of bed. It was 6:30am. I wasn’t hungry or sleepy, so I cracked open the laptop. The code editor was still there, so I naturally begun filling things which were missing. When I took notice of the time again, it was time to shower and pack up for the library.
Something changed at work too, I was focused but not tunnel-vision focus as I had been in the last weeks. Each kind of focus has it’s pros and cons, it seems, because without tunnel-vision focus it would have been impossible to resolve some tough geometry and layout problems, and without a wider but softer global focus it is impossible to create a good product, because the mind is directing all the attention to a single spot.
A guy sat in front of me, and he wouldn’t stop chatting on whatsapp with the volume turned up. A couple of glares from the people at the table didn’t dissuade him, so I asked if he could turn off the volume. I was surprised my request didn’t come out with a hint of resentment, as annoyance was building up. He showed me that the volume didn’t work, and I showed him how to mute iOS devices and I got back to work. Or so I thought.
My lack of tunnel vision meant being distracted by the fellow’s fiddling the entire morning. I couldn’t help but notice he didn’t advance one page of the textbook he was studying. Finally, after some time, I was able to get into flow: “wow, what happened?” I thought, then the guy came back from a break. Ah, distracted guy wasn’t here. I thought about going back home, but decided it would be instructive trying to maintain flow with him in front. I would have changed seats of course, but this library is always packed.
Like many others, I’ve pondered if I have some sort of ADD. It’s tremendously difficult to sustain attention on something that’s boring. But saying “something is boring” is the wrong way of seeing it, it’s simply that the mind doesn’t want to latch on a person, conversation, task or idea. The best that one can do is set up things so that focus becomes more likely, and the source of distraction may be inside oneself as well as in the outside world.
It seems to apply not only to attention, but to emotional response: objects, people or ideas are not annoying, pleasant, funny or disgusting, they happen to arise these emotions in us. But if enough social consensus is reached, it is fine to apply these attributes to them. Few would argue that vomit is not disgusting, for example.
And so I came back home, meditated for a while, went to the supermarket, and saw that the sun was setting when I came back. I prepared myself a tea to observe the sunset over Casa de Campo. As the last rays of the sun were drowning in the horizon a family stood right behind me and a man said:
—“look, the sunset is beautiful!” —“that sunset is shit, dad”, a teenaged voice responded. —“That’s because you just missed it, the sun waits for those who appreciate it.”
I smiled. Truth indeed.