A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
It is easy to fall into the world of instantaneous information where we see one thing and, without hardly processing what it was, move onto the next thing. The most prominent example of this is social media platforms where we scroll from one image, video, story, to the next and never actually spend any time with anything. We are under the illusion that because the speed of information, the speed of life, is so fast that we can be more aware of the present moment and that we are living in the NOW. Are we, though?
Our attention spans have become limited to reading the first line and deciding that we know enough about the subject. Being that I am a student at a private art school five days a week and work at a gallery five days a week, I am exposed to a lot of art, art-making, and art people, so I will use this as an example: studies show the average time a person will spend looking at a piece of visual art is 15 to 30 seconds. Pieces of work that a person spent months, or years of their life to create and all we can give them from our attention span is 15 to 30 seconds. Are we so focused on trying to see and know as much as possible that we can’t spend more than 30 seconds with something? How often does the average person sit with themselves and think on their lives, their environment, their world, or their internal development? Of course, it is much easier in a moment of pause to take out your smartphone and browse social media aimlessly for 20 minutes than it would be for us to actually exercise our brains, or acknowledge that we have one.
So here we are, completely obsessed with the present and simultaneously not noticing anything while becoming increasingly incapable of making decisions in our lives that would actually lead us towards contentment. We are constantly wanting the lives we don’t have and not noticing that we are already living the only life that we could ever be content with, it just takes us actually being present. Spending that time there is a silence in conversation to sit and be where we are instead of going onto our phones and pretending that we have working brains. Actually absorbing the art and culture around us in order to have a deeper and more meaningful experience of life.
Yet, I ask myself this: The present is all good and so forth, but what about goals in life? Well, we certainly won’t be able to achieve our goals if we can’t kick ass in the present. Sometimes we have to survive through difficult decisions in order to achieve contentment. I have spent the last three years trying to ignore the fact that I want to be somewhere else with other people. But, I have forced myself to stick with my gut and my original decision to be on my own and figure out how the world works so that I can support myself and my passions AND be where I want to be. That is the long-game sacrifice I made for my own betterment and contentment. In order to reach the larger goal, however, I have to pay close attention to how I am leading my life on a moment-to-moment basis. Being frustrated or depressed by my living situation or the people I am not surrounded by does not make getting where I want to be any easier. Trust me, I try this on a weekly basis. What does help is actually immersing myself into the culture and energy of what is happening around me. Spending more than 30 seconds to look at a piece of art. Reading the whole article and then several follow-up articles instead of the headline.
No more headliners. Pay attention and experience your life.