Sex! Sex! Sex! That should grab most people’s attention. Now let’s see if I can keep it for more than 8 seconds.
One thing I believe all human beings share is an interest, in one form or other, in sex. Our preferences may differ, but I suspect we all enjoy orgasms. There’s absolutely nothing “dirty” about them. They’re simply the pinnacle of human joy.
But, if we’re going to enjoy it as completely as possible, we need to pay attention. If my mind is on baseball, as I’ve been told it ought to be, I’m not really going to get as much out of the experience as I would if my mind is on my partner. I think a fair case can be made that she deserves my undivided attention since she’s being as physically intimate with me as is possible. She didn’t just hand me a really good pastrami sandwich, which I would also enjoy. She gave me something much kinder and more valuable. Or, at least she did unless it was a pastrami sandwich from Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco, which is really too good to be a sandwich. Those things are supernatural.
The American attention span is shrinking at an alarming rate. If you write more than 20 words in a Facebook post, it’s unlikely anyone will read it. “TL;DR,” which means too long; didn’t (or don’t) read,” is becoming more and more common. We don’t take the time to engage (or even write) a complete thought.
When I was in high school, 40 years ago, my American History teacher claimed, with dismay, that the normal attention span was 7 minutes, and that was why Bugs Bunny cartoons ran that long. Today, according to Microsoft, the attention span is only 8 seconds. We can do better than that. If you’re still reading, congratulations, you’re doing better than most Americans. You’re the reader I value most.
I completely agree with the idea that our minutes are our most valuable possessions. If I spend a dollar, I can go to work and earn another one. When I spend a minute, it’s gone forever, and nothing I can do will retrieve it for me. I want each one to be the best it can possibly be. I try to have as many pastrami sandwiches as possible, now that sex really isn’t likely to be a part of my life anymore. And even now, a good pastrami sandwich is rare in my life.
I don’t want to give you tricks to increase your attention span. There are about 1,000 articles in a Google Search that will give you those. I want to convince you that it’s worth the effort.
The best minutes you are likely to spend are those to which you have devoted all of your attention. When you delve deeply into something, it becomes more interesting, even compelling, and the minutes you spend keep becoming more and more cathartic. This is true of any form of Art. Stravinsky takes longer to get than The Romantics, but the minutes you spend give you a greater high. In short, if you choose well, your time has greater value. Just as sex is better if you’re paying attention to all the little details, so is Art… and sex is a form of Art, too.
Beyond enjoying your minutes more, you are more capable of solving problems if you have taken the time to consider ideas in a little more depth. You need the whole concept, not just the meme sized McNuggets. What do I mean?
“Good fences make good neighbors.”Robert Frost
Robert Frost is telling us that boundaries in our relationships are healthy. We must always keep someone on the other side of our fences. He’s endorsing separating ourselves from others. Isn’t he?
No. You got only the McNugget. You missed most of the meal. You don’t have time for the explanation, but if you can find the time and attention to pursue it, read “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” The idea is deeper than it seems.
My story, “Two Moments,” can be read as either the sad acceptance of the end of a relationship or the brutal and horrifying end of a life. It takes a few minutes to absorb the ideas well enough to enjoy it. A few more minutes will allow you to consider questions I don’t answer for you. You learn about yourself by deciding how you see it. What could be more interesting than yourself? You just need to invest your minutes.
There’s a scene in a movie called “Klute” in which Jane Fonda, playing a prostitute, is having what appears to be passionate sex with a John. As she’s moaning and groaning in pretended ecstasy, we see her stop a moment, look at her watch, and then go back to playing her part. Her attention is elsewhere. She’s not enjoying her minutes. What a waste.
Choose where to spend your minutes, but spend enough of them to get the most you can out of each one. Make your minutes Prime Rib more often than McNuggets. Prime Rib costs more, but it’s much more enjoyable. Give your minutes the attention they deserve.