ZOELAB DAY 30
Well we have reached the end of September. The first month of this project. I’ve never been so aware of a month ending. It brings out the desire for some sort of ritual or at least acknowledgment. Today I spent the entire day at home, alone with Emilio. I was so happy not to have to drive anywhere. We were out of diapers and I wasn’t sure we’d make it through the day and night with no diaper, but I still refused to drive somewhere and buy some. Emilio ended up pooping while standing in the shower. And then by some miracle, I found one last diaper right before bedtime.
I have noticed that Emilio is more needing of my attention recently. I have discussed this with Lucas and we both agree it’s because I have been less generous with my full attention because I have been more focused on myself, or things I want to accomplish than usual. I wanted to deny this at first, but as I thought about it, I became more aware of how something inside sometimes resists giving him attention. I attribute this to my inner child feeling envious of the attention I am giving him. Little Zoë doesn’t want me to give attention to someone else because she feels neglected too. The effect of course, is that he needs my attention even more, and he is less willing to cooperate because he is frustrated by not getting what he needs from me. His resistance, in turn, frustrates me and causes me to give him less attention. Also his resistance to cooperation, and his “acting out” is another method of trying to get my attention, in this case negative attention. It may not be the attention he wanted, but it’s better than none. We become stuck in, according to couples and family counseling theory, “a negative interaction cycle.” The last few days Emilio and I have been spending a lot of alone time together. I have taken it is an opportunity to improve the quality of my attention. Instead of just giving up on my own tasks and needs, or having split attention between us, I have been making sure to give Emilio my full attention at the times when he really needs it. Giving my full attention is not just putting my attention on him passively, but it means engaging him and acknowledging where he is. If he’s rowdy, then I join in his rowdiness, but still on my terms. If he’s feeling gentle, I have him sit in my lap and talk softly to him. After all, “attention is the most basic form of love.” (John Tarrant) And I can see the effect on him immediately. After I give him some quality attention, he becomes more relaxed in a matter of minutes. He then is happy to play by himself in the next moment. Through out the day, I take turns between playing with him or attending to his needs, and attending to my own needs. That way everyone feels cared for.
Looking back on this month, I see how much my experience of life has changed because of where I have put my attention. This September I have focused my attention on happiness, photography, drawing, writing, parenting, organizing, Elias Calles, friendship, family, the past. I had said that I would pick one form of art per month to focus on. I had picked drawing because I already felt that I was doing more drawing than usual. Soon after that decision, I decreased the amount of drawing I did. Not sure what that means, and I am not sure if I can keep up the intention of focus, but I will continue to try. I will state my next area of focus in the next post. I still have a lot of work to do on this site in terms of organization--including a project page, a theme page, and a newly designed web map based on a drawing I made. I hope to get more of that done in October. Looking back over this first month, what stands out most is how much as happened on an internal level while very little has happened on external level. It’s been hot and humid. I’ve been lonely and existentially bored. However, my inner world has been rich with ideas, personal insights, images, and creative solutions to problems. I think my hypothesis that awareness is a key component to happiness (which I wrote about in an earlier post) is proving to be true. Although awareness does not always bring an immediate sense of joy, it does offer an opportunity to work with or play with difficult feelings and situations. This project is bringing increased awareness on a daily level, which leads me to be more engaged and curious about life. My life is shaped by where I put my attention.