Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hearing the tiny bird sing while you're being assaulted by dozens of screeching eagles

I thought this comment I put on Noah Brier's blog merited its own post here:

Over the summer, someone asked me how I can keep track of all the digital information - music, RSS feeds, Tweets, iChat, and whatever file I am working on - at once.

I said, "Take a second to think about everything you are experiencing right now. You're listening to me, about three other conversations going on around us, the air conditioning. You're seeing me, my desk, the carpet, the wall, the wall art, out the window, the trees. You're feeling the air around you, the clothes on your body, the floor beneath your feet. You're smelling the dust from the vents and the coffee in this cup. If you tried to explain all that to someone who was deaf and blind, they'd probably say the same thing. 'How my god, how do you process it all?' And the answer is, 'You just adapt. You learn how to decipher what's important and what's not and how to focus and refocus on things throughout the day.'"

I'm not normally that eloquent, so I assume I'd either thought of or heard that explanation before. But I can't remember when or where

I heard a great Buddhist story once. The student asks the master how he managed to hear a tiny bird singing softly at the window and the master replied, "The real question is, 'How is it that you did not?'"

The interesting thing is that my comment directly contradicts a post I wrote in 2007:

Some [social digital tools] have proven valuable. Others have increased my mania. But now it appears I may just be making myself stupid... Navigating the maze of strategies, media and applications can be awfully distracting. Especially to a creative mind that verges on the manic without any help from hyperlinks.

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