Keepin' On

"I figure I can either quit, or keep on going. I choose Keepin' On."

May I have Your Attention

I have occasionally been in conversations in which I had no idea what we were talking about.  Sound waves were vibrating, people were nodding and saying, “Uh, huh.”  Yet it was clear, at least to me, that I had lost the thread of the topic.  Thread, heck, I was about two spools and a zipper off from wherever I had been a few moments before.  I had not been paying attention.  Now, it is my job to pay attention and on the job, I am quite good at it.  But outside of that, my mind often wanders.

I once woke up on the phone in the middle of a conversation.  Here is the story:  I was a sophomore in college and, while working on a paper, I dropped off into an exhausted sleep around midnight.  Later that night, I suddenly became aware of three things at about the same time. 1) I had been asleep, 2) I had apparently been talking with someone on the phone for several minutes, and 3) I had no idea what the topic was.  It was a little like watching C-Span.

In the Little Universe Inside My Head, I wondered briefly if I had been whisked into one of those parallel dimensions like in any number of science fiction episodes.  To this day I think that would be the ultimate excuse for every dippy thing I do.  Like, if I came downstairs happily wearing my blue-green pants with my green-blue shirt and my dear wife looked at me and said, ever so gently, “Are wearing that tonight?”  Then I could look down at myself and exclaim, “Oh, no, the evil Jim from the Bad Taste dimension must have done this while I was napping!”

In the real world, however, I would have to admit the truth that I was not particularly paying attention to what clothes I put on.  Attention, awareness, concentration – the loss of these are the casualties of stress, but here is the good news, they are also the antidotes.  Sometimes, Keepin’ On is a matter of steadily putting one foot in front of the other.  On other occasions, however, what is needed is a recharge of energy.

I once had a college class in which the instructor seemed to drone on forever (if you can imagine).  This did not help to boost our learning experience.  Since I had nothing to lose, I decided to try an experiment.  The next class period I sat down prepared to concentrate on everything that was said, no matter how dull it was.  I sat up, leaned forward and engaged the instructor eye to eye.  I was putting energy into the class.  It took time but eventually, the instructor seemed to have more energy as well.  Other students perked up and also paid more attention.  This created more energy in the classroom.  From that point on it began to be a more interesting class.

Now, let us be clear.  This did not become the best class in the world and none of us went on to fame and fortune as a result.  It was just better.  Those of us who put more in, got more out.  Together, we paid attention and recharged our batteries.

And that is how a cow makes milk.  Oh, no! The evil Jim from the Bad Writing dimension . . .

Your Keepin’ On Tip for the Day:

Paying attention may lead to a surprising reward

About Jim Thomson

Husband, father, grandfather, counselor, and writer.

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