This is a story about four neighbors. Their personalities are linked to attention styles as defined in the four attention theory. Please, see this post before reading it. You will enjoy – I hope – the story a lot more.
They lived four different lives, in four different flats. On the top floor of a big building. In the town centre. Young and independent.
Narr – always focused and confident about what should happen next
Diff – living in chaos and easily distracted
Ob – feeling more important than others but often very lonely
Imm – making friends with everyone and easily letting go
On that day in the morning, disaster struck. The broadband was cut off for good. It was coming and going for some time which was very annoying but somehow on that day they all felt that it was different. They just felt it. It did not slow down, it did not brake for short moments, it was gone.
The time was passing. An early afternoon summer hit was slowly flowing in through open windows. They were sitting in front of black screens waiting for a miracle. Half asleep, unshaved, with bowls of cereal barely eaten.
The broadband was important for so many reasons. They worked through the net, socialised and ordered food as well as other things. A big part of their world was coming through a screen. It seemed far worse than lack of water, food, or even oxygen.
So that was huge, for all of them, but in four different ways.
was able to focus on really small details of literally everything. He was the first to notice the lift making astrange jerk when stopping on a floor. He kept noticing it and after a few days when the jerk had become ‘an established aberration of the norm’, Narr wrote a notice letter to the building admin office. He knew they had seven days to reply but he could not resist calling them to enquire about the status of his letter. They soon had enough of Narr’s calls and asked him to stop harassing them. However, Narr did not mean to annoy anyone. He simply expected excellence from everyone including himself. A glass filled to the top, toothpaste squeezed to the last drop, holidays planned down to the last detail. At the same time Narr could not see the bigger picture. It was beyond him. He did not appreciate that the lift was still taking him all the way up to the top floor many times every day. The jerk was far more important.
When the broadband collapsed Narr acted immediately. He did not have time for that. It was going to be another busy day and he hoped to eventually shorten a ‘Do it now’ list. ‘Do it now’ was a sub-list to ‘Do it soon’ belonging to the ‘Do it before long’ division in his ever expanding planner. Narr had to find the solution fast. He reset his laptop twice, he checked a remote hub, and broadband status on his iPad and iPhone. The 3G network and mobile network was ‘off’ too. It did not look good. Narr hated when chaos entered his pedantic world. Things were not going according to plan. Rules were not followed. Every unexpected change made him feel less certain about the future, more vulnerable. Exposed to his obsessions.
THE MORE ACCURATE AND FOCUSED YOU ARE, THE MORE THINGS YOU DO BUT IT MAY STOP YOU FROM STEPPING BACK AND SEEING THE BIG PICTURE WHICH ALWAYS HELPS TO DISCOVER NEW OPPORTUNITIES YOU HAVE NOT SEEN BEFORE
was the opposite to Narr. He always struggled with focusing on work, repeatedly surfing through silly websites. Staying focused was a big effort for Diff. It is an effort for everyone but for him it was really tough. Every time he directed his attention to something it did not last. He was too aware of everything that was happening around him, noises coming from other flats, smells from a street, news from a radio, texts from friends, sudden cravings for something spicy or dreams about pretty girls he met. Everything could redirect his attention and stop him from finishing whatever he was doing.
That day Diff had another typical morning. He could not produce even a few minutes of productive work. The best he could do was jumping between his favourite websites, without any progress. He had already made several visits to the kitchen and bathroom wasting time on reading old newspapers. When the broadband went he even felt a kind of relief, but the vague feeling that something had to be done quickly emerged in his stomach. It was becoming stronger and stronger but he could not figure out a solution. Diff often struggled with making up his mind, because most of the time it was completely empty but he had learned to be patient. He knew that if he was lucky an idea could drop straight into his head. Just like that, a moment of sudden realisation with strong feeling about its rightness. “A good technique but sometimes very slow, though” he used to say. It took Diff a month to decide where to take his new girlfriend on their first night out.
THE MORE AWARE YOU ARE OF THE WORLD AROUND YOU THE MORE FULFILLED IS YOUR LIFE WITH EXPERIENCES AND THE QUIETER IS YOUR MIND BUT IT MAY STOP YOU FROM FOCUSING ON THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE
was a different story. He worked hard to achieve, accomplish and conquer. Always on top or at least very close. He was very self aware, looking for splendor and fame. Producing endless lists of goals and striving to achieve them. It was his personal ‘mission impossible’ since Ob was immediately replacing every accomplished goal with several new ones. He was never fully content, never happy with his success for longer then a day. It was making Ob’s life hard, full of stress and frustration because with the same ‘ease’ Ob was multiplying problems.
Ob loved collecting things and had many strange collections you would not believe could be collected. Spoons stolen from posh restaurants, pictures of girls sleeping in his bed ‘the morning after’. Once he added a new object to his collection he felt better for some time but it never lasted. The same was with new friends. He was making a lot of effort to meet people who seemed important to him. But they were never his real friends. It was just another collection he could boast about.
On the day the broadband was cut off Ob was googling wooden earrings he saw in a fashion magazine. He found a beautiful set made by tribal workers in a small farm in Kenya. It took him a lot of time that morning to find a contact number for this farm and just before the final push the broadband was gone. Ob instantly got very cross and started nervously calling a help desk. Not surprisingly the number was busy with people like himself calling and looking for answers. He was slowly clenching and opening his fists trying to release the growing tension.
THE MORE THINGS YOU GET THE BIGGER AND THE MORE IMPORTANT YOU FEEL BECAUSE THEY BECOME PART OF YOU. HOWEVER, REGARDLESS HOW BIG AND IMPORTANT YOU ARE WHEN YOU ARE DETACHED FROM THE WORLD SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL FEEL LONELY AND UNHAPPY
was the opposite to Ob. He did not care very much about his work and according to his parents, (both doctors) he could write a ‘handbook of laziness’. Imm simply did not expect too much and he could easily adjust to new circumstances. This saved him a lot of stress and frustration. Such as when he broke both legs and arms during a base jumping trip in the Alps. He lived in a hospital ward for six months having nurses helping him with eating, peeing and ‘the rest’. Having only his facial muscles fully functioning he learnt brilliant impressions of famous actors and celebrities. It helped Imm to make people laugh many times since he left hospital. That was another thing about Imm. He felt good only when everyone around him was happy. That is why people liked him. He was a soul of every group jumping on the same wave with everyone in seconds.
Imm’s only problem was that every now and then someone was using him in order to achieve their own goals. Moreover Imm was not learning from his mistakes and was full of understanding for all those horrible people who were taking advantage of his love for their gain.
That morning Imm was skyping his new friend from Brazil. He was in the middle of the last night’s party story when the broadband went down. But although the internet was his only way of getting a small income Imm could not be bothered. He even liked it. He could spend some time with his dog, enjoying a roof terrace opened to a blue sky and the summer sun, covered with beautiful flowers and plants.
THE MORE CONNECTED YOU ARE WITH THE WORLD THE BETTER YOU FEEL BECAUSE THE PURE LOVE FLOWS THROUGH YOU BUT WATCH OUT ENERGY VAMPIRES WHO ARE READY TO SUCK ALL YOU LOVE WITHIN MINUTES LEAVING YOU EXHAUSTED AND REMAINING HUNGRY FOR MORE
The first who decided to visit a neighbour was Narr. He knocked on Ob’s door but Ob did not hear him, busy yelling at a help desk guy on the phone. Ob hated help desk people. They were making him feel inferior suggesting the obvious like a disconnected power cord or enabled screen saver. Ob had almost lost his voice before he had enough. He opened the door and let Narr in. They knew each other from the lift but Narr had never seemed important enough for Ob to engage in a small talk. Always very tidy but somehow boring.
They sat together on the sofa, Narr and Ob. Very focused, trying to solve the problem. But, despite all their efforts they could not make any progress, getting increasingly frustrated. The situation was slowly overwhelming them. Narr could only think how difficult his life would be without the broadband. Ob was moaning about the collection he was about to lose. It was all they could do. The problem was floating in front of them like a big, black, silent computer screen. Distant and unsolvable. They felt increasingly tired, stuck and lost. Eventually Narr made up a conspiracy theory about aliens attacking cities starting with disarming communication systems and with them being the first victims. Irrational? Well, not for Narr. At least it connected all dots giving him a sort of relief.
It all was very exhausting but the solution had still not been found.
STAYING FOCUSED AND PUSHING THINGS HARD MAY TAKE YOU CLOSER TO WHAT YOU WANT BUT IT WILL MAKE YOU EXHAUSTED AND CONVINCED THAT LIFE IS TOUGH. IT WILL ALSO STRIP YOU FROM PLEASURE COMING FROM LETTING GO AND ALLOWING THINGS HAPPEN
At the same time Diff decided to do something. He had enough of waiting for an idea which was not coming. He got up, opened the door, made a few quick steps through an empty corridor before realising that he was still in his pyjama (yellow top with red stripes and grey bottom with rows of Mickey Mouse heads). Diff hesitated for a moment. It was not his best set but he was not going to be bothered. He cautiously knocked on Imm’s door. Diff knew Imm from the past having to calm down his always too noisy parties. The door was not shut. He walked across the living room and found Imm playing with his dog on the terrace.
Diff cleared his throat to make himself heard. ‘What’s up?’ asked Imm, somehow not surprised by Diff’s presence.
The broadband is gone, haven’t you noticed?’ mumbled Diff ‘We are in trouble,’
‘That’s fine. Look, there are so many cool things we can do instead of staring at screens,’ smiled Imm. ‘Come in and have some fun on my new terrace’.
‘Yeah, but what about the work, how we are going to survive without the broadband,’ groaned Diff, taking a few steps forward.
‘Hey, everything will be all right. Don’t worry, mate’ said Imm trying to cheer up his neighbour. ‘The broadband is off so we can have some time off too. Jump on a bed, look at the sky and have a drink,’ Imm pointed at one of sun beds covered with soft yellow mattresses.
They lay down and closed their eyes.
It was nice, very nice, but the solution still had not been found.
ACCEPTING WHAT HAPPENS MAY KEEP YOU CALM AND RELAXED BUT YOU MAY NOT GET ANY PROGRESS IN LIFE
Continue to The Magic Terrace story – part two.