I am working alone in a crowd . I exchange warm expressions from strangers as we look up from our computers. The clear day cuts an orange triangle of light on the table. There is a girl sitting legs crisscrossed smiling working on her phone. There is a young man in a white blazer hunched over a low table with his face inches from his computer.
I want to be here. I woke up early to grab a spot at one of the tables. I am one of many. This feels like the perfect balance of connection and autonomy.
Post covid, I am acutely aware of my internal dialogue. She and I kept each other up for hours arguing about how life should be. What was I doing with my life? Why didn’t my life look anything like I had imagined? What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me? She was brutal and relentless. i was helpless to disengage or quiet her.
We whittled away hours and hours debating my shortcomings and the details of the way my life should be. I tried to avoid her. These hours of fretting created a tightness in my chest. I was desperate to find away to disengage. The iphone worked. Venders were vying for my engagement.
Pre covid, my ADHD allowed me to avoid these discussions. I lived in the movement of a full calendar. I remember feeling exhausted by business. I use to say "I was paddling hard for very little surf". She and I had no time to debate.
Now, she had all my attention. I was desperate to make her happy.
Her joy became my focus. We began with walks full of big air. We painted for hours. We joined the online communities of meditation and yoga gurus. I learned that when my heart raced and I stopped breathing , I needed to double down my focus on her.
As I reintegrated back into the new world, I now pay attention to how the choices I make on how to spend my time and with whom either add or take away her joy. She is my North Star. She has always been here but I didn’t know I was wearing the ruby red slippers.
We are all paying attention to our attention.