By Nathan L. Walls

Articles tagged “mindfulness”

Attention: Slower, softer, smaller, focused, curious

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around focusing my free time pursuing creative outlets like photography, writing, and software development. There’s a ton of books and magazines I would love to read and a bundle of coding projects I’d like to be productive on all at once.

I’ve spent a long time wrecking my attention in a few different ways. First, I spent a lot of time being Very Online. Second, I spent a lot of mental energy planning my creative efforts, while also using all of the available time for them in the planning and being Very Online. I read a lot, but not enough books, not enough worthwhile magazines.

Part of my winter vacation involved taking a break from my customary online space and slowing down. Chasing fewer threads of stuff to react to, to get angry about. Refreshing my creative thinking with some timely reading from Robin Sloan, and a piece from earlier in 2022 from Nicole Chung. Synthesis: The work can be lonely, but it’s worthwhile. Both were wonderful pieces. Some things you see or read, you find when you’re ready for them.

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last couple of weeks reading and rereading material on open/indie websites and, if there’s one thing I’ve found super inspirational about all of it is discarding the notion that it has to be for anyone else. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out a larger point and a larger project instead of just putting words down and sharing images that I’ve made. If something else comes out of that, cool, but I need some time where that’s a secondary or tertiary benefit other than just reducing the thought and focus friction around writing, coding, and photographing.

I’ve been taking more time to be outside or looking out my windows at the sky and trees. More time for walking. More time for thinking.

When I was younger, I was briefly part of a social crowd that was habitual, but I realized I stopped enjoying who I was with them. Secondarily, my boundaries weren’t respected. Accordingly, I found it necessary and refreshing to no longer frequent their company. The particulars aren’t important. It just ceased being a situation I was comfortable with, let alone wanted to invest more time and energy in.

My social media break is ongoing and indefinite. The recovered time is going toward endeavors I consider more valuable. Some of it is creative. Some is just choosing to slow down and relax. Instead of soaking in anger, snark, and a general malaise of learned helplessness, I’ve seen a bunch of worthwhile and creative websites I’m looking to draw some inspiration from.

“Slower, softer, smaller, focused, curious” describes how I’m looking to spend the next chunk of time.

Slower in the sense of not rushing. Reevaluating how busy I am and how much I self-assign and choose that busyness.

Softer in the sense of being easier with myself and with others. I’ll have more to say about this in a subsequent post.

Smaller in the sense, articulated in the linked posts, that writing or coding for myself, on a platform I’m wholly responsible for, is fine. Software-wise, what I want is a spice rack, and what I’ve been thinking about and working on are Hammer Factory Factories. Writing-wise, thinking less in terms of just writing and more in terms of assembling cohesive topics.

Focused in the sense of spending concentrated bursts of time on one thing, not scattering my attention like bird seed.

Curious as I like to believe I always have been. Nerding out on things like maps, websites, photography, and code. I look forward to sharing my explorations here.

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