The Weekly Dream: General Indifference

“If you want to be somebody/If you want to go somewhere/ You better wake up and pay attention”
-Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

“The seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well-prepared to receive it.”
-Scoop Jackson

“It means so much just to be present and bring all of yourself to the task at hand.”
-Cory Nettles

It is a miracle. Whatever we devote our attention to automatically grows and flourishes, because it is a tell tale sign of focus/priority. For instance, my mother has house plants over twenty years old, yet they grow to the ceiling. I thought it weird that as she cared for them, she spoke to them also. I always wondered what it is you say to a plant to make it grow, but what I realized is that it did not matter. The important thing only that time was taken out to tend to the needs of the plants at the moment.

The Gravamen

Attention is linked and rooted in so many other things. And based on the context, can be called many different names. One of the most valuable gifts we can offer to others is our undivided attention. I recently participated in a conference where we performed a listening exercise. For a few minutes, I sat across from my partner and “beamed” at them while they talked about whatever they wanted. Then it was my turn, but I could not respond to what had been said before. It was a little unsettling at first to have someone so intently focused on you. Yet, it helped sort out some things I did not know was there. I realized that having that attention is all too rare, although it costs us nothing.

Why Don’t More People Pay Attention

All of us have dealt with an individual who was not attentive and the frustration that comes as a result, yet how often do we find ourselves doing the same thing. Most of us live day to day on autopilot anyway. How much of your day are you conscious of what you are doing? How much is involved in active thinking and analyzing?

This normally plays itself out on the phone. During phone conversations, we are doing the dishes, talking to other people, watching other people. So many things compete for our attention and time is so limited, it is difficult to really “beam” in on the person/conversation/task. But I cannot help but wonder how many things pass us by because of this. Think about it, when was the last time you were totally present in a conversation or activity. Your mind did not wander, you were not multi-tasking, but you were completely focused on what was in front of you. I have found that life is far more rewarding when we are present and ready for action.

Inattentiveness can be a coping mechanism because with awareness, comes responsibility. I refer to this as being “decidedly ignorant.” A lot of people make a conscious effort not to educate themselves. In this Age of Information, I am amazed at how little the general public knows about how things work (e.g. politics, the economy, government, etc.). What’s more, they take pride in not knowing. Perhaps, these issues are not immediate as opposed to meeting daily needs, so there is no urgency but these things are important nonetheless. I have learned that ignoring a problem will not make it go away. So it is best to “man up” and work with what you have (Shameless Plug: We can directly conteract this trend by directing people http://www.TheSuperSpade.com).

Pearls before Swine

Some of us place our attention on things that are negative or just plain dumb. Forgive me, but is what is going on with Britney, Paris or Brad going to help you pay your bills. Sure, the beautiful people can be interesting and watching someone else’s life can be relaxing. However, some people get so wrapped up in things that do not matter or in other folks’ business, that they life is in shambles. They commit a cardinal sin: letting other people problems become their own.

People also have the tendency to only focus on the negative. One little thing happens and their day is shot. A change of focus is needed. Too many individuals are problem orientated instead of solution motivated. The church mothers said it best, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”

Make sure you are handling your business and maintain proper perspective.

I want to cater to you…: A Sidebar

Attention varies based on the situation and context. And different things require varying levels of our attention. No doubt, you can wash the dishes and talk on the phone at the same time, and do a pretty good job. But if you want to do a great job (e.g. company is coming over), then you have to focus to drill down into the detail. This is more so true in the area of relationships.

There is a song called “Cater to You” by Destiny’s Child in which they discuss pampering their man. Yet so many of my female friends were offended by the song and dismissed it as sexist and one sided. However, I took it to illustrate the mutual concern and attention that is necessary for true intimacy. If your counterpart is doing their part, why not pamper them every once and a while. A little gratitude goes a long way.

It is unsettling to me how my generation and the generations that follow treat love and companionship as a pure arm’s length business transaction, where everyone is after their own interest. I have seen numerous individuals who consciously or unconsciously disregard the needs of their partners, or seem indifferent, but expect the world in return. This inattentiveness is selfishness. This type of relationship cannot prosper. In any relationship, we should key into what we can bring to the situation. How can we make it better? Giving it the attention and priority required. I believe that this is the key to a thriving relationship and what is meant by a helpmate.

In the End

Being attentive takes discipline and can be exhausting. Why? Because attention is not just attention, it demands so much more. The antenna does not need to be up all of the time. Sometimes, you do need mindless activity-it is called relaxation. But habitual inattentiveness is detrimental because it lulls us into a false sense of security; especially when it comes to people. God gave us five senses for a reason. Use them.

If you are alert, then you are harder to deceive.

Where your attention is, your heart will follow.

Attention is a commodity, spend it wisely.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas

Question of the Week: Who or what is currently holding your attention and why?

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5 responses to “The Weekly Dream: General Indifference”

  1. Free says :

    So true. We’ve been taught (more in the past 15-20 yrs) to “multi-task in everything we do. It sounded good when it started, but it washed away the attention/focus you speak of. (I looked up the “Cater” lyrics. Nice.

  2. BrownSugarFlyyGirl says :

    Okay…Steve…I see you…I was really feeling that one…

    When I was in a Delta time management workshop..one of the things that
    was advised is to do one thing at a time with your complete attention.
    That was very ironic to me..because you would think that they key to
    time management is multi-tasking…but the facilitator suggested that
    there are times when you multi-task but there are also times when
    things need to have your FULL attention. I am NEVER doing one thing
    at one time…clearly our IM conversation while I was in class is an
    example of that…lol. I think it also goes back to another one of
    your articles when you were saying that sometimes we just need silence
    and dont need the television or radio on while studying. We get so
    accustomed to several stimuli…on the train..reading a book..while
    listening to an IPOD…and then we wonder why our kids develop ADD….
    Right now in my life..I am trying to take away so much of the
    busy-ness so that I can truly be focused on one thing at a time…I am
    going to keep taking things away until I am doing EVERYTHING in my
    life well…and if that means I am only doing two things…then so be
    it…but I am in the erase mode so that I can be excellent and truly
    glorify God in everything I do and not be a SHAMMER!!

    I have also been learning how to be a better listener…and to give
    friends..and people I love the time and attention that they
    deserve…it was actually one of my new years resolutions (to never BE
    or SEEM to busy for the people that I care about)…Its been
    rough…but I think that I am doing better…but giving people your
    undivided is hard…even if they dont have it simply because you are
    thinking of a response…I am working on it…a lot of time I feel
    really self-centered…and I am really working on truly being either
    more concerned or at least AS concerend about others as I am
    myself…being an only child with a doting mother definitely takes
    time to overcome…but I am working on it… :o)

    Last but not least, I LOVE CATER TO YOU!! (secret: sometimes every
    once in a while…I actually put it one repeat with about two other DC
    songs) It is one of my absolute favorite songs!! I think that when you
    can internalize the biblical basis of marriage where you submit unto
    each other (specifically a woman that submits to a man that loves you
    as Christ loves the church)..and where a man (that loves and serves
    the Lord) is head of the household…catering to him is not an issue!!
    You will want too..and it will become second nature!! I praise God
    that he broke down that concept to me a long time ago…because being
    as strong-willed and career-minded as I am…you would think that
    submitting to a man would be an issue…but its not..Praise God…I am
    actually looking forward to that type of relationship. So I just
    wanted to let you know that there are some Prov 31 women out there who
    aint mad at Destiny’s Child…LOL

  3. Mo says :

    My attention now: Graduate exams and relaxation in the process

    On the 1st comment:
    I’ve seen marriages where the female has submitted to her husband and she is really not happy. Married 25 years but struggling the entire way. I don’t want that. I don’t want to submit to my husband and I don’t want my husband to submit to me. I want US to commit to each other. We should compliment each other not complete each other. I was raised in an Apostolic church (where it’s not mandated but they frowned upon women wearing pants to church. I can’t help but feel sometimes submission means losing who you are and what makes you happy. I like cater to you because I’m not assuming they are saying always submit to your husband. I thought is was just like pamper your man. It’s ok to pamper your man as long as you do it out of love not because he controls you. I want to support and love my husband not lose my identity in the process.

  4. Anonymous says :

    I am SO feeling this article…It’s one of your best. Well Put and your commentators provide even further perspective into this issue. It is nothing wrong with “catering” to someone, so long as that someone is following the righteous path and reciprocating that love. That’s so far as relationships. But in addition, it is important to keep these values in mind with everyday tasks. Being a full time and night grad student and still trying to balance taking care of family, loved ones, etc….you know it’s hard out here for a pimp. (lol) Being a master of one trade as opposed to a jack of many trades is not such a bad idea. It’s just important that whatever you do, you give it the nurture it deserves…that way it will still bee there for you years down the road.

  5. Steve D. "The Governor" says :

    As clarification goes, my whole paradigm for “catering” to someone is based upon mutual understanding and reciprocation. Catering comes after a solid foundation of communication and trust has been made. Like the good book says, you don’t put your “pearls before swine”. Nor should you submit to a fool. I can only sympathize with those trapped in situations Mo described, because life is too short to be unhappy.

    Only God can complete us, but we can compliment each other. With that said, aint nothin wrong with a backrub and a sandwich from time to time if your man/woman is on point.

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