“We have eyes yet see not, ears yet hear not” – Jason Silva
“Look at me daddy”, my son placed the last block on his tower. An epic tower at that, nearly as tall as him.
I responded with a quick “yeah, bud, I am looking”, as I pointed my gaze toward the colorful block tower before me.
“You’re not looking right, daddy” he now said with a scornful tone. Until this moment I never knew I could look at someone “wrong” unless I was picking a bar fight in a seedy drinking hole. But, my four-year-old old son had a point. I wasn’t looking at him “right”. My mind had wandered. He knew that although my eyes were pointed at his direction, I wasn’t seeing. Seeing goes beyond being physically present. Where then was my mind?
It all pulls for our attention: bills, work, that social media post and everything else our mind scans through every moment. Experiences around us seem like white noise as we scan through the channels. We may be “there”, but our minds are in a distant place. Thoughts switching rapidly, no time to see.
We experience our world with anxiety for the future and regret for the past. The present is left to be experienced through photos, social media posts, video and maybe a souvenir. Life lived as an anticipated memory, as Jason Silva once said. To be “present”. To be “mindful”. Words seen more often on bumper stickers and home decor than in our minds. When they should be hard wired.
So, how do we come off scan mode? How do we live in the present, clear our minds in order to take in what is really important? Well, I don’t really have that answer. If I did, I myself would not miss another moment; however, I believe focus is a start.
Focus on What is in Front of You
Focus on what we are doing at that time. As in martial arts, your Kime (focus), we concentrate on each technique, each punch. The focus when weight training. The knurled grip between your hands, gravities pull as the weight ascends from the ground. This is focus in training. It’s the focus required to truly take in those life moments. Everything is cleared, you are able to take in that moment without a need to photograph it, video it, or post it. You experience it. You’re present. All you need is right in front of you. It’s happening, it won’t last, don’t miss it.
“Where the hours go slow and the beauty we know, it’s a love, that is the key”- Chuck Ragan
One Channel at a Time
With focus we need to be on one channel at a time, which can prove difficult. This may mean we take our smart phone out of the equation. Leave it on the counter or in another room (tip: crank up the volume so you can hear it ring). Turn off the news or sports game. Catch up on your fantasy football league later. Take all the objects that pull for your attention out, so you can focus on what is before you. There will come a time to focus on those other elements of your life, now focus on just this one.
Now I understand what my son meant by not looking at him “right”. Sometimes our kids can be much more observant than us knuckle-dragging dads. We aren’t fooling them. Focus on those moments, take them in. They won’t be little guys forever. Photos and videos will not do those moments justice. Be present. Be mindful. Come off scan.