June 4, 2020:
Yesterday, I spoke about the process of sensory perception on a fundamental level
Today, I want to delve a little deeper into one particular aspect of that – one that I had intended to give a cursory glance to yesterday, but forgot to circle back to it!
When I talked about that super rapid (like, fraction of a fraction of a second) process of identification of sensory input, followed by a sort of threat/benefit assessment
What that translates to, in practical terms
Is what we notice
Little flashes of movement, out of the corner of one’s eye
A person looking at us, from the other end of the train
People we know, people we have never met
Billboards, as we’re driving
The things we notice
There is a system in our brains that determines which of the things around us, we will notice
It is not something we can control
It’s just what we see
What we hear
There is so much around us, in every moment
So much information
Assailing our every sense
It is too much to pay attention to it all, always
It would overwhelm us
Paralyze our minds
The feel of countless individual molecules moving through the air around us
Becomes the simple brush of a light wind
This, we notice
The vibrations of that wind causing each individual leaf on every individual tree within our line of sight
Becomes, once again, joined together- simplified
To be the flutter of that breeze, moving through the trees
And what of the grass, swaying beneath our feet?
The motion of each individual blade, reaching separately, yet in tandem with those around it?
Multiply that motion, across our range of vision
Add that to the sounds heard in every moment
July 5, 2020:
And we are simply unable to consciously process all of it, all at once.
No. I thought I could get away with doing something with my brain, other than The Not Smoking Project.
But even thinking about this topic, for just a few minutes- and when I started paying attention to what my brain was doing, again- I really wanted a cigarette.
July 6, 2020:
Let’s see if I have begun making enough headway in the Not Smoking Project, to be able to devote brain time to other things, yet
Why do we notice some things, and not others?
On the street, I was in survival mode. It was a scary place in which to live, and so the things I noticed tended to be threatening. Of course, drug use makes all this extra wonky.
But I believe that the more time we spend –
The more we are physically primed to notice the kinds of things that reinforce those feelings
Even on as fundamental level as what kinds of things we notice, we pay attention to- moment to moment
But if we can slow that roll
Take the driver’s seat in our own lives, our own minds
And begin turning the wheel
Towards things like empathy
Towards things like finding the magic
And the beauty
And the swelling, breathtaking wonder there is to be found in our world, if we can only bring ourselves to look for it, more often
If we can remember to look for those things
Then, after a while- we no longer need to remember to look for them
they become what we see
What we notice
They become part of our most fundamental process of sensory perception
But it does not happen, automatically
This kind of thing takes werk
We have to be even more relentless than the negativity we see around us
Even more relentless than the news, the internet, than Facebook- Just as I am meeting each craving for a cigarette – head on
Turning it into something else
So we must all do, with anger.
With blame, with anxiety- with stress
I believe that in order to thrive, as individuals, and as a species- We must learn how to take those kinds of obstacles, those kinds of punches
and absorb their fucking power
Use that energy, that momentum- to grow stronger in our resolution To no longer accept untenable situations, systems that do not work- as just the way things are. Things are this way because no one has figured out a way to fix them, yet.
But is that any reason to give up trying?