Thursday, January 3, 2013

Selective Negative Attention

All of our studies of memory and attention and cognitive behavioural therapy have taught me that I cannot trust my mind to give me a 'true' representative of even my little piece of the world. This 'information' that I experience is constantly being processed and edited by past prejudice and by emotional tone.
For example yesterday, I was driving to work, two seriously whacked out drivers nearly hit my car, one changing lanes without signalling and the other jumping a light in front of me at high speed but causing me to break with concern. Now there were hundreds of other cars on the road. All the other drivers were such model citizens and so thoroughly toilet trained as to drive with the group and be responsible motorists in all ways. In the 20 minute drive two yahoos stick out. I was unable to park because thieves working the parking meters with string and magnets had jammed the meters. It's a recurrent problem. I wanted to report it to the police. Instead of a brief encounter the police wanted me to describe the fellow in detail who had been casing these parking meters even though it might be a long shot that he was the one who was working this city block.
At work I saw some 40 people. The staff were amazing, truly amazing, wonderful competent, reliable delightful people. My colleagues were superb, pleasant, efficient reliable, knowledgeable, informed, courteous. The staff and colleagues and I chatted and exchanged New Years good wishes. The people I saw were all thoroughly pleasant and hard working trying each in their way to be compliant with treatment, making small progress here and there and greater progress in some cases. One person was typically obnoxious and belittling to me and staff and disrupting, loud and ultimately offensive. I asked them to leave. Even the person who had vpmitted in my office was upstaged by the loud person. The man who vomitted had said "I'm going to be sick, looked about, found the wastebasket, vomitted there, and then emptied the bag himself' saying he'd eaten something he thought off from his fridge just before coming, drunk a coke and now felt better with it gone, apologizing profusely for vomitting. Now there was a true gentleman considerate of others even in his distress and really a true contrast to the 'king baby' of addiction the attention seeking drama queen I'd seen earlier who plays the 'big shot' all the time and disdains others psychopathically looking for weak individuals to exploit.
At the end of the day I had a headache not from the thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable people I had to work with, My plan had been to drive to work. 2 yahoos threatened my vehicle en route. After that I was disrupted in my attempt to park by a criminal scheme. Then in the workplace while I had a man be sick in my office the Febreeze helped, there weren't windows as in my other office and by the end of the day the 'stuffiness' and sheer volume of work plus the always routinely offensive person ordering me to hurry up and stop wasting his time, had me exhausted at the end of the day wondering why I do this work and wishing to escape to work in the country or back on a polynesian island.
I was focussing on the frustration of city experience, the encounter with what I euphemistically call 'assholes' all the while my little dog simple loves assholes and sniffs any he can demonstrating that one's negative is another's positive. Or in this case, that I can choose to focus on the highs of my days or the lows and too often and too routinely I'm paying most of my attention to the negatives. In contrast I would like to remember the smiles of the staff. They are truly beautiful people with the greatest greeting manners, incredible love and tolerance for their fellow man, do a myriad of tasks all the while people like the most difficult person that day, "grind" and "grind" at them demanding preferential treatment and wanting to jump the queue and complaining and criticizing them endlessly all the while they're cordial and pleasant in return.
We all tolerate the greatest degree of abuse their daily with belligerence threats, swearing constantly, shouting and squabbling with everyone accepting that this is sickness and the emotional immaturity and social devolution that goes with the disease and the self centredness of people who often have been in jail, some live on the streets where the very traits that are so offensive in community and in waiting rooms actually may have some survival value. The staff and my colleagues smile. They are humorous. Someone had brought an arrangement. Everyone working there was dressed well and were clean. Some of the people I saw had clearly made an effort with their clothing and hygiene to appear as well as possible for the visit. In a way our mind doesn't register the masses of good people.
It's like the media that never reports 25 million Canadians today did not kill their neighbours. Thousands of schools did not have a mass murderer invade their doors today. No tsunami struck anywhere today and no hurricane hit a continental mass yesterday. There was no major new war offensive reported in BBC, just the smouldering old make work kind of wars that reflect the bad marriages of socially inept countries around the world. No one said Canada fed all it's people and provided shelter from the horrible weather conditions of winter for refugees and indigents alike. Elsewhere people are having trouble getting water and food but here at home we did that and kept the trains and planes flying and while more and more people are expecting more and more people to take care of them, frankly because of increasing entitlement and self centeredness, the vast majority of people in the country went to work and paid taxes and worked together with other to make this 2nd day of the year rather spectacular.
If I had the means to see 'truly' without the horrible filters I have I'd be setting off fire works at the end of the day. It realy was a historically great day though here in Vancouver but it's probably not going to show up in history text books. I also forgot that all the people I saw were pretty much dead men and women walking. Their conditions by all rights should have killed them years ago but despite the horrendous burden of disease they keep struggling to live in lives that are so chaotic and messed up that one really should celebrate any day they survive the level of abuse they experience through their own hands and the consequences of their society. I was given the miracle of this day. I was able to be a part of one of the greatest days the universe will ever give someone. I had food and shelter and friends and work and love and everything was truly sacred and amazing. Yet somehow rather than praising God and being eternally thankful that I was participating in the sheer wonder of creation I was focussing my attention on the negatives.
I can't trust my mind. Only my soul is truthful. My emotions are too often reflective of what I think and what I think is too often hijacked by any number of distractions. At the end of the day I need to remember the light. I slept through the night and today there is a new dawn. I sure hope I can see more clearly today. I must somehow ignore the misinformation of my mind and concentrate on the truth and wonder that God gives me. My soul knows better than my mind or sentiment. My soul is the very heart of the matter where wisdom resides and I can appreciate what is true. Please God let me see more truly today and know that truth even in the midst of the moment to moment reality of existence.

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