This morning when I was drinking coffee, my mind started wandering and I noticed how my awareness of myself being in the café I was at was overlaid with a kind of meta-awareness—an awareness of my awareness of myself being in the café. “Here I am, seeing myself as being where I am.” I looked out the window and saw people entering my frame of visibility from one side and exiting it on the other side and I took note of the fact that each one of them looked at the world through the window of their attention at any given moment in time.
“But there is so much more,” I thought. “There is so much more out there that evades our attention, even though it is just as real as the things that are more immediately accessible to us.” In my mind I zoomed out and looked at the city from above. All the noises were so much quieter, the cars so much smaller, the people so much closer together. I zoomed back in. “This is me paying attention to what’s in front of me. But why am I not paying attention to all the things that I can’t see?” The picture in front of me defocused and my senses opened up to reveal a world of pictures and sounds outside of my physical abilities.
I saw people sleeping in another time zone in one direction and people manufacturing clothes in another direction, thousands of kilometers away from me. I saw millions of unnamed humans following their attention, looking left, looking right, staring at their phones, looking at the sky, crossing the road, drinking coffee. “We all exist at the same time, in this very moment. In a sense, we all live in the same place. And yet, we are so separate from each other, separated by our limited ability to see beyond what’s right in front of us.”
As my attention shifted away from the noisy cacophony of the entirety of humanity, a different voice got a chance to be heard: the voice of a lone whale swimming through the ocean somewhere, in this moment. “This whale is alive somewhere on this planet. I know that whales still exist and so this picture represents something real.”
I took another sip of my coffee. The whale had no idea that I was paying attention to it. How could it. But it was alive. It is alive. It is out there even now as I’m writing this.