Your Attention is a Gift

I appreciate you, my dear readers.

I mean that sincerely.

There are countless other blogs out there that you could be reading right now, and a vast number of other things you could be doing with your time.  But you are reading this one.

And for that, I want to thank you.

I have high standards for my work.  (That’s one of the reasons I don’t post here as often as I’d like.)  I try to stay free of conventional jobs whenever possible, so that I will be able to devote more time and attention to offering you my best work.  Whenever I sit down to write, I keep in mind that if I want my work to serve the greatest good possible, it must honour the gift of attention that my readers are giving me.

Accordingly, here is the prayer I say when I sit down to write:

May the words I write serve the greatest good of all who read them, and may they help us build a beautiful and thriving culture of joyful leisure, work, and sustenance within a context of community interdependence and deep ecological wisdom.

It must, therefore, be the best quality work I am capable of offering to the world at that moment.  It must be honest and genuine; the world is overrun with snark and sarcasm, but sincerity is all too rare.  It must be clear, thought-provoking, emotionally appropriate, uplifting and joyful without being fluffy or saccharine, and informed by (but not limited to) scholarly research.  It must be the product of rigorous critical thinking as well as personal experience and spiritual insight.  It must somehow manage to convey the seriousness and magnitude of the multiple social, economic and environmental crises we face, yet without falling into the trap of draining much-needed energy and straining relationships by dwelling too heavily in dark and horrible places without offering respite.

I want to earn the gift of your attention by making the best possible use of my own gifts, and delivering the results to you by way of my writing.  It’s a tall order, but for me it’s the only way to go.

You do know that giving someone your full, undivided, uninterrupted attention is a gift, right?  One of the beauties of this is that it’s a gift anyone can give, regardless of financial means.  It’s the kind of gift that makes the world a better place to live.  What we pay attention to matters, as our attention is limited.  It should be treated like the precious resource that it is, and it should be allocated mindfully rather than squandered unconsciously or allowed to atrophy.

Attention is not something that you owe me.  If I try to hijack your attention and use it for the wrong purposes, I will lose your trust, and rightfully so.  These days the web is clogged with dummy blog posts and “articles” loaded with keywords and search-engine-friendly catch-phrases, but with no real meat.  I’ve been online since 1993, and sometimes I miss the early days of the web because it seemed easier to find words that were obviously written by real people from the heart, instead of having my attention hijacked by commercial interests, useless arguing, and content-free “content” at every turn.

I want radical unjobbing to be real, I want it to be honest, and I want it to facilitate connection.  Most of all, I want it to be worthy of your attention.

I may be the one “assigned” to bring radical unjobbing to you and tell you some of my stories, and it’s true that writing for this blog is a labour of love…but ultimately I’m not doing this for me.  I’m doing it because I believe wholeheartedly that other, better ways of life are possible, outside of the job culture.  I’m doing it because I want you to identify and use your own gifts in service of the kind of world you’d like to live in.  Gifts are sacred.  I want you to think about what you have to give, and in what ways you can offer your gifts.  And I want you to learn how to receive and accept nourishment in the form of gifts, too.

That’s what radical unjobbing is about: learning to live in the culture of the gift, where giving and receiving are one, and freeing ourselves from the scarcity-driven job culture.  You can do this whether or not you have a conventional job.  You can always start with your attention.  Where will you place it?  What will you do with this gift?

I appreciate the gift of attention that you have given by reading my work.

My prayer today is that I may continue to produce work that is worthy of this gift.