If You Don't Show Up, Life Won't Either
attention presence work
A great story from Stephen Pressfield, author of The War of Art, relates his conception of creativity. His Muse would show up at his house, and if it saw that he was at his desk writing, it would stick around. If he wasn't working, it would move on.
There is the element of luck; what time the Muse would show up, how much value it would provide, and how long it would stay were out of his control
But there is also the element of hard work: he had to be ready to receive the Muse by putting in some work.
And that's where presence comes in.
If you are present--if you are paying attention to your life, in the big and small things--then you'll notice when opportunity shows up, and you'll have the emotional reflexes to take advantage of it.
But if you don't even have the commitment to show up for your life, why should opportunity and growth?
If you can't even be bothered to be actively engaged in your life, your health, your education, or your relationships, why should success be engaged with you?
Paying attention means showing up and doing the work. Work is simply giving things your diligent attention.
Love as Attention
I learned this the hard way in my primary relationship. I was wondering why it wasn't working for me. She didn't seem to get me anymore, and the overall relationship dynamics were just out of step with my values and life.
After working on it on our own and with a therapist, I realized that I hadn't been showing up at all. I had long ago written things off. I didn't address problems, and I didn't show my appreciation.
Lack of engagement for me meant not connecting this relationship with the rest of my life. I would make plans for the future without considering the impact on my partner. I was just running on autopilot--show affection, cook dinner, send a cute text--not bothering to think about what anything meant for our lives together.
All the opportunities for growth, passion, and possibility this relationship could offer were simply passing me by. As soon as I committed to being present, giving it my attention and taking it seriously, all the things that had been missing suddenly showed up.
Life is the same way.
Pay attention. I know life is hard and dreary, but you must resist the temptation to shift over to autopilot. I honestly believe that is the greatest struggle a human being faces.
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