Scene: A boring classroom
“Pay Attention to me” said the teacher, staring him down.
“Sorry Ma’am” said the student, completely losing his train of thought. He was busy making paper planes and now he just lost his attention. Poor guy didn’t understand why he has to learn where all the major lakes in India should be on the Indian map. Neither did I, sitting next to him.
As the teacher was disciplining my classmate by staring him down, I sat up straight looking rather serious and waited patiently for her to continue making my world boring.
I looked at my watch and the time was just 3:30. “What the hell!”
There was still 45 minutes to go before I could leave the class. “I don’t know if I can make it”, I thought
“Why was paying attention so difficult during geography class” I thought.
My Geography teacher continued explaining and pacing around the class.
My friend went back to making paper planes while muttering a few words softly to me. I grinned as a sign of approval.
I stared at my notes. I looked around the class. Then slowly moved my attention back to my friend who was really focussed on making his master piece. He was making it for me. He was doing his duty diligently.
Suddenly I had a different thought. Why was I not paying attention like she said. So, I whispered to my friend, “Why are we not paying attention again?”.
He stopped what he was doing and stared me down. After a minute I asked “You didn’t give me an answer, you know”. He was getting really annoyed by this point but he took a deep breath and explained ” You are living in Abu Dhabi, why does it matter where the damn lakes in India are?”. I didn’t have an answer. He seemed to be right. ‘But, no… he must be right’ I thought. Since I didn’t have an answer.
10 minutes passed by and I was getting restless. I thought about what the teacher told him. Why isn’t he paying attention?, I thought. Well, in a way, he is paying attention to something. It’s just not Geography right now. There is nothing wrong with that!
Why are paper planes fun and Geography boring if the thing that we require for both is Attention? I knew for a fact that the teachers and my parents agreed on this. All of them wanted me to pay attention to Geography Class. That more than paper planes for sure.
‘If I learn to make paper planes, maybe someday I might be able to make real planes right? How would learning about the lakes help me?’ I thought. I wanted to ask the teacher, but I had good reason to believe the teacher would just kick me out of class saying “Stop asking stupid questions”. That’s what happened to Kevin. No-one wanted that for sure.
Why am I so afraid, I didn’t know. I turned my attention to my friend. He seemed to be pretty brave to still be making the paper planes even after getting warned by the teacher. He just did what felt good. But the teacher called him inattentive. He never questioned it like me. I guess he wasn’t smart enough.
“Why would she say that I am not paying attention.” he said while I completely lost the plot. “How could he know about what I was thinking in my head? Did I say it out loud by mistake?” I thought, “Could he read my mind?”
He continued saying “I am really paying attention to these beautiful paper planes and at the same time making sure I don’t get caught by her. I think I am really good at paying attention”. As usual, he made a lot of sense. But, how did he know? Can we all read each other’s minds or is he just able to read my mind because we are best friends?
You see, Fear motivated me. I was afraid, that’s why I sat in class. That is the only reason. I was afraid so I didn’t say anything to get myself kicked out. And all my attention was on one thing and thing only. Fear that something I do, will have consequences. I didn’t even want to see what would happen if I did.
Why should I pay attention?
You will have to pay attention to something. So pay attention in such a way that you change your motivator from Fear to Freedom. Admit it if you are afraid, because every one is afraid. People who can learn to outgrow it, open up their lives to something beyond it.
There are so many options and I believe there is no best way to do something. What works for one person effectively might not be the best approach for another. So, if you just pay attention to what you are doing, you will see opportunities all around you. Clarity is important in life. And paying attention is the best way to get clarity. The more you pay attention to your actions and thoughts, the more clarity is achieved.
If you pay no attention, life will be amazing and if you pay complete attention to one specific area of your life, like your job, that aspect of your life will be amazing. If you try paying attention every now and then, you will just be disappointed. Because, being aware of the nonsense you do when you are not attentive will cause you to be more stressed than not being attentive at all.
Life is too short to not pay attention. You might miss a lot of good stuff that come your way.