Monday’s Meditation: On What We Notice & Why (Or: How Life Works A Lot Like Google)
If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ll know that when you do, you start spotting it everywhere. You never noticed it before, but now it seems to be the most popular vehicle on the road. There’s one, in the lane next to you. There it is again, in blue, parked across the street from you. You pass one, going in the opposite direction, and blink your lights at each other. Twinsies!
If you’ve ever decided you’d really like to visit somewhere in particular, say, Scotland, you’ll likely begin to feel like the world has read your mind: the magazine cover in the grocery check out line will read, “YOU NEED TO GO TO SCOTLAND NOW,” pictures of Loch Ness may inexplicably start showing up in your pinterest feed, and specials about unicorns and Scottish folk lore will suddenly seem to be trending on every seventh channel.
If you’ve ever wanted something so badly, it can seem like everyone around you seems to be achieving or acquiring that which you yearn for–a baby, a boyfriend, a book deal.
If you’ve ever played a game of “I Spy” with a child and been given the clue, “something red,” you’ll know from having to guess the exhaustive amount of red things around.
When you start looking for something, start paying attention to it, you see it everywhere. You can’t help but to notice it.
Even though it can feel like the pervasiveness of a topic or product or practice has rapidly increased, from did it exist before? to inescapable, unavoidable, and, eventually, inevitable, it isn’t really that, of course. It’s merely that you started paying attention to the existence of that entity.
Whereas before it swam before you, a part of the collective blur of society you perceive on a daily basis, now you filter the sight, sifting the notable, the applicable, from the rest.
See, the world is sort of like a giant search engine. Or shopping site. You apply the filters, and the engine will spit out a match, tailored nearly exactly to your parameters, from out of its endless catalogue. It will do this with every type of search, and it will do it every time.
So, why does any of this matter?
Because what we notice does.
What we seek, what we are attentive to, dictates what we will find, and what we will find ourselves surrounded by. This is fairly negligible as far as cars and travel destinations are concerned. Not so with the more crucial matters of blessings and curses; positives and negatives; good and evil.
If you plug gratitude into the search bar, yours will be a life to be grateful for.
If you search for misery, for people working against you, for unluckiness, you’re going to find that. Indeed, you will not be able to escape it.
And here’s the kicker: it’s pretty impossible to notice anything else while you’re tracking something different.
How many other car models register to you while you’re paying attention to only one? How many blue things do you notice while you’re spying for red?
You can’t see it all. There Simply isn’t time or brain space.
So, if I told you that you were guaranteed to notice an overwhelming amount of whatever you choose to look for, and that, in the process, you will naturally overlook whatever doesn’t fit your query criteria, well then, what would you pay attention to?
The search bar is yours. The cursor is blinking.
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