what will it take to capture your attention?

the one the buddhists would approve of

what will it take to capture your attention?

It’s morning; you’re awake. You push the bedsheets to one side and make your way through the cabin. Your partner is still sleeping, a beam of sunlight dancing across their bare skin.

Up the stairs and out into the cockpit, the sea breeze hits you square in the chest. It tastes like salt. It mixes with the warm morning sun—a few seconds of heat then a blast of cool breeze.

Maybe you’ll watch the birds dive for fish.

Whatever your plans were, they’re about to change. Just around the corner you see a yellow dinghy headed your way. The two driver and passenger are gesturing at you and hoisting a speargun.

You reach for your wetsuit. It was drip drying on the bimini. In a few minutes you go from stark naked sunning on the stern of your boat to plunging into the water which is cold as a January tit once you get 10 feet or so down.

Suppose it’s time to catch breakfast.

My therapist and I were having a conversation.

I said that I wasn’t paying attention. And that I didn’t think I had ever paid attention for more than a few fleeting moments in my entire life.

I daydream.

In my earliest memory, I am six. I’m in grade two. My head is on the desk and instead of listening to what Ms. Loyd is saying, I am wondering what the Legend of Zelda would be like if it were set in Trinidad and Tobago with yours truly as the protagonist.

Becoming a young man brought the desire to make a difference. But, in the time it took me to grow, the world had become a more dangerous place for daydreamers.

Our economy shifted dramatically towards capturing attention. A hamster wheel of endless want. For a young man prone to navel gazing this was pure heroin.

Work online. Socialize online. Create a reputation online. Play online. Mate online. Think online.

Each year I invested more and more of myself in the digital world without realizing how it atrophied my ability to take action. Until one day even I could not help but be frustrated at how abstract my world had become.

So I left.

Sailing is a constant reality check. It’s fear vs pleasure. Necessity vs want. The immediacy of the sun on your face. The feeling you get when you watch your wife and her girlfriend come prancing out of the water. The blood warms. It’s life.

It’s hard to pinpoint what is so corrosive about becoming obsessed with your internal monologue. But I started this essay with the intention of trying so here goes:

You shouldn’t be able to check out of a situation as soon as it becomes uncomfortable.

But that’s exactly what a vibrant internal world allows you to—escape from reality by daydreaming.

But while you check out, your connection to reality languishes. And that which truly matters—the connections you could make—passes you by.

It’s a tough lesson but reality is an acquired taste. If you are always exercising your option to withdraw, you might lose your liking for it.