As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where is your attention?


I've been reading a lot lately about attention deficit. (Luckily, even though my attention isn't always on writing, my desire to read never seems to wain.) What is this deficit? Is it lack of focus, or disinterest in a given subject matter, or boredom? Or, could it be TOO MUCH to do ??? Not completely sure yet, but I suspect it may result from our crazy world that requires us to do and be everything all at once, and none of it with complete success. Heck, when you can't focus throughout your day, your sleep probably sucks, too.

So, I teach kids art. I also teach computer skills to adults (artists mostly).

Kids, especially teenagers are the most challenging because their energy is so darting, I often wonder how they get anything done in school apart from driving teachers insane. Although keeping a kid's attention is a tough task, talking to an artist about the need for discipline trumps it. Teaching an artist about discipline is like trying to teach someone with ADHD to sit still and concentrate. It is not always in their control to do that. So, I have had to assess my intent and find a way to use the artist's personality in his/her favor. And, I have been thinking about how to tackle just one moment in time..at a time.

But first, speaking of ADD, I learned a lot about adults with attention issues by teaching them computer skills. I could always spot them in my class, because they're the ones who continually ask me a question about the very thing I just finished speaking about. I blame myself, though, because I had them turn on the laptops at the beginning of class so that I could work through the day with a demo and then an exercise. The resulting behavior was that I was talking to myself while they played on their computers for 10-15 minute blocks of time (the demo time), followed by another 30 minutes of individual question and answer about the demo that they weren't watching (exercise time), followed finally by the exercise time (of which there is none left).

Let's face it, we just have too much to think about and do each day. I would like to live in France again for a few years, or forever, just so I can again be in the company of people who know to enjoy life, live deliberately, and savor a moment.

As long as I am here though, how about trying your own little exercise tomorrow. Each time you have a task, tell yourself, "This is my task, and it's all I am going to do right now, for X period of time." Then, move away from your computer or turn off your phone and just allow yourself to focus on that one and ONLY ONE thing. And, if someone calls you or approaches you to talk and you can't talk, make it clear why you can't talk right now, and that you will be available later (after that block of time is up).

Regarding speaking to people: If you can talk, make that deliberate too. Move away from anyone and anything distracting, and give that person ALL of your attention. They deserve it. You deserve it. When you focus, you will retain. Take a breath and listen for a change. You may find you have never done this before. I guarantee it will feel so much better remembering what someone just said to you, that you will begin to deliberately give people your whole attention.

Whatever your intention, I bet you will feel better and more satisfied if you do it with all of your attention!

Oooo, I can move mountains.
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4 comments:

  1. We do have so much to distract us these days don't we!!

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  2. I love what you wrote Rebecca. I had a lady in my watercolor class last summer who said all artists have ADD. The more I've thought about it, I can see how some people might think that. I believe it's because we are sensory perceivers and there's just so much sensory stimulation around us. I totally agree about trying to focus on one thing at a time. I have to make lists to help myself stay on track. I also do much better if I don't have music on when I'm working though that's not as much fun...Also had to laugh at your comment about kids. Yesterday I volunteered to do art with my son's 4/5 grade class. I couldn't believe how exhausted I was physically and mentally after 45 minutes! Kathy

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  3. Thanks, Kathy. he he. I am with you. I can get pretty worn out after that kind of energy session. I don't have children, so maybe it's even harder for me. not sure. ?

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  4. Kimberly, oh yes, the distractions! It's why I got out the house. I could get distracted by dishes.

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