Paying attention

[the] will to be oneself is heroism*
(José Ortega y Gasset)

Not curating, just letting things still out and pile on one another, is in many ways an easy option; curating well is tough, patient stuff.’**
(Michael Bhaskar)

When it comes to paying attention, we all have plenty to spend, though we don’t always spend it wisely.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi helps us to see just how we can use our attention:

Attention can be invested in innumerable ways, ways that can make life either rich or miserable. […] Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy. Memories, thoughts, and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.^

Paying the kind of attention that Csikszentmihalyi imagines leading to a rich experience of life is like curation. It’s not about letting things happen or wanting everything, but about choosing, bringing together and shaping our lives in particular ways. This is where a myth comes in handy. Here’s an overview of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.^^

This is available to every one of us but it doesn’t come without difficulty, as Michael Bhaskar understood: curation is a more difficult option.

A personal myth or story is curation.

We all have the same amount of attention to spend; when we spend it wisely, we can come to inspiration and growth and new beginnings.

(*José Ortega y Gasset, quoted in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)
(**From Michael Bhaskar’s Curation.)
(^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^^From Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.)

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