There have been many times in my life when I needed the peace of being near water or trees. The last year has certainly been one of them. Because we live in an era where forces compete for our attention.
Corporations want your attention.
The news wants your attention.
Social media wants your attention.
The internet wants your attention.
Social activists want your attention.
The entertainment industry wants your attention.
Big tech wants your attention.
I see screens running ads or shows in places that, as a child, I couldn’t have imagined—in the backseat of a taxi, on an airplane, on benches waiting for the bus. There’s no relief.
We can’t always see it, because we aren’t time travelers, and this is the time we live in, but life hasn’t always been this way. We used to have to turn on the television. We used to have to open a newspaper. Now, the things we found when we voluntarily entered these spaces find us, relentlessly, without our permission; or, at least, without our conscious permission.
This is what I mean when I talk about The Elementals—your culture’s principal values that resonate with you. What is important to you? What do you believe is worthy of your attention? What do you value?
Our attention is a limited resource. If we allow it to be leached by politicians, corporations, celebrities, we have nothing left for the things that truly matter.
We have no attention left for God.
For our families.
For work that has meaning.
For our health.
If you think I’m crazy or you don’t believe me, just look around. Millions of us wonder why our lives feel so empty. Because they’ve been confiscated, and we don’t even realize it. Because our attention is being stolen right before our eyes. The greatest sleight of hand. The greatest, darkest trick of all.