At a St. Patrick’s Day party a couple of years ago, my brother’s best friend berated him for having "NPA" disease. NPA = Not Paying Attention.
My brother just smiled and raised his glass in a silent toast, which made us all instantly understand that he hadn’t heard a word his friend said.
Joe and his BFF, Tomo. Undoubtedly solving some world crisis. Or looking up golf scores.
Gratuitous St. Patrick's Day pic. These shirts are replicas of the ones we used to sell at the Place back in the day.
Over the last couple of months, I've been working my way through The Artist's Way, a self-directed course mostly for creative types that's meant to help stuck artists get and stay un-stuck by introducing simple tools to rewire your brain and give you freedom from the constant “not good enough” soundtrack that is probably playing in it, turned up to eleven, 24/7.
a.k.a Radio KFKD
Last week’s lesson focused on paying attention.
“Very often, a creative block manifests itself as an addiction to fantasy. Rather than working or living in the now, we spin our wheels and indulge in daydreams of could have, would have, should have."
As I read through the lesson and completed the exercises I started to think that maybe NPA is a family trait.
I often find myself daydreaming — sometimes placing myself in paradise with a cocktail and a tan, but usually just revising old or never-had arguments to include devastating personal takedowns or coming up with a great opening line in case I ever run into Dave Grohl at a 7-11.
I have a list.
When I was leaving my job in 2017, a friend and mentor told me that once I was finally done, I’d start noticing little things out in the world that had probably always been around, but that I’d been too distracted to see.
About a week after my last day at work, it began. The patterns in the metal grates on the sidewalk near my apartment - were they always this intricate? The plaque on the gate of the playground next door says “The Happy Warrior.” Wait, when did they name it? Oh, it ALWAYS had a name? Cool. The bubbles in a glass of champagne proffered by a friend toasting my newfound freedom. I mean, obviously champagne has bubbles in it, but have you SEEN them? Whoa.
Two and a half years later, and I’ve stopped noticing things again. My brain is full - ideas, conversations, work, bills, planning, Netflix, the Internet, the News. I’m not only not noticing “the little things,” I’m not noticing the big things either.
Recently, I realized that I was paying for not one but TWO Amazon subscriptions I don’t remember ordering. And less than 24 hours later, I discovered I was double-paying for my renter’s insurance. When I called to get it fixed, the guy on the phone said, “Actually, you’ve been triple-paying. Sorry.”
(Upside: I am getting a refund for those extra insurance policies.It’s like found money.)
Just today, I ordered an Uber. The driver cheerily confirmed, “so 322 8th Avenue?” Uh, no. I’m going to the airport! I hastily updated my destination in the app to Newark Airport. Wow, that could have been bad.
When the driver asked, “What terminal?” I scrolled confidently through the American app, “Ah here it is. Terminal 8. JFK.”
Well, third time’s the charm. And here I am at the airport. Early enough to stock up on water and snacks and still leave enough time for a pre-flight cocktail. I’m on my way to London for a pre-vacation vacation. A long weekend away to drink too much wine, shop the high street fashions, and buy kitschy British Christmas gifts.
Somewhere Out There is now playing in the bar. Is there a note higher and more mouse-like than Linda Rondstadt’s “PALE moon light”???
On this trip, I”ll try to pay attention. See what I see. I’ll let you know how it goes.
PS. I started this post a while ago, forgot about it, then came back to it today. The title of the file is “The Dark Web - wow this title can change since this is not at all about the dark web.”
Which now makes me ask: what, exactly, was I planning to write about THE DARK WEB?
You paying attention? Or totally distracted by life? Let me know in the comments here or on FB/IG.