“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” -Hermann Hesse
Before I started this site, I had a different blog where I frequently posted uplifting videos. I quickly learned that the average web reader will devote one to two minutes before deciding that a video drags on. It’s a consequence of the rapidly moving digital era: our attention spans have decreased.
And we tend to get desensitized to concepts fairly quickly. Perhaps it’s because very little feels fresh in an information-overloaded online world, where there are millions of inspiring quotes, beautiful images, and poignant videos to enjoy.
When something is sticky–the term internet marketers use describe a page that people look at for longer than average–there’s often a highly strategic, psychologically motivated plan that keeps us enthralled and engaging. There are things that captivate and touch us–and they oftentimes go viral. But they may be videos we watch half-way through before sharing. Or blog posts we briefly scan and then Stumble.
That’s not to say we always hop from content to content with all the focus of an overstimulated goldfish. It’s just that, on the whole, as an audience, we’re hard to captivate. There’s a lot happening around us, online and off, and a lot competing for our attention.
I thought about all this today, after watching a time lapse video I found linked on Twitter. Shot in San Francisco, it shows hundreds of hours of footage in just under 5 minutes. And it’s beautiful. It’s a condensed slice of everything we might miss, when we’re caught up on our heads, or multitasking, or receiving various stimuli with multiple senses simultaneously.
Only two minutes in and I was already tempted to do something else. Then I realized the irony.
Life moves quickly around us. There will always be something else to see and do. There will always be something else that pops up and threatens to scatter our focus. We can task the outside world with being sticky enough to engage us. Or we can choose to find serenity and focus, sitting smack dab in the middle of the chaos.
Life is beauty in motion, but we can only appreciate it one tiny piece at a time, and only if we’re willing to find stillness within.
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