When and How Does the Light Turn On?
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When and How Does the Light Turn On? • Posted: Apr 06, 2023 20:13:54Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

If you look closely at the image above on the right, you see a solitary man taking particular note of something. Just what that something is is not readily apparent. But, he does not seem alarmed. Rather, his body language suggests he is at least curious and possibly somewhat amused. The words, “Now, that’s interesting.” or maybe ,”What the ... ?” may be in his thoughts. His mind is definitely engaged. He is not about to yawn out of boredom. Neither does he seem about to turn away in disgust, as if someone were putting up a sign he doesn’t agree with. No, more likely it seems he will be mentally engaged with that unknown something for at least the next minute or two. He isn’t moving. He’s staying put just where he is. But why? What is going on inside that brain of his that has him riveted to a state of welcoming input?

In today’s media saturating world, the answer to that question in the hands of exploitive individuals could mean increased riches. In the hands of the power hungry, it might lead to increased influence and eventual hegemony. In the hands of benevolent educators, it could lead to increases in social viability for students. In the hands of the duplicitous, it could bring about shepherding of the foolish and trusting toward very unsavory ends.

Mostly scary thoughts, perhaps. But, only if the locus of control for entering that attentive state of mind is left to outside forces. Self-aware and disciplined minds can, it seems, pretty much frustrate most invasive and exploitive attempts to control their attentions. All that needs doing is to tune out, change the channel, press MUTE, or turn OFF. Sadly, there seems to be fewer and fewer self-aware disciplined minds around these days. Instead, what we have is increases in depression, psychosis, and suicide, not to mention more and more bloody acts of violence by both individuals and crazed mobs.

We may live in a digital world, but human beings are not digital. They are analog systems. Too loud or too soft, too hot or too cold, not enough food or too much are all analog gradient ranges, not simple on or off dimensions to our being. Loss of control as to when and how much along such gradients amounts to loss of control as to who we are as individuals. And that, in the long run, can be devastating to our mental and physical health.

What I think is both cool and inspiring about the guy in the image above is his relaxed curious openness to that something outside the picture. He, not someone else, is in control of why that something has his attention. It is a healthy leaning and growth moment for him, likely to result in at least a good story to share with friends when they are open to hearing and enjoying it. And that’s a good thing too, because voluntary open attentiveness to each other’s individual experiences and points of view makes for the kinds of trust and interpersonal appreciation upon which healthy viable communities are built. And we definitely need more of both.

As you venture outside into the blossoming of Spring this year, I hope you regain more and more personal control over what makes for too much and for not enough. And, that your attentions remain largely under your control, not under the control of those who would exploit them for their own gain.

To challenge one’s self
with all that’s about
is how one unerringly learns
what’s what and what’s not.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009