My kids routinely break the USB cables they use to charge their tablets. On nights that don’t precede a school day, my wife and I don’t set a bedtime for them and they tend to fall asleep with their tablets plugged into the wall.
BREAKING USB CABLES
As our kids unconsciously flail about while sleeping, they end up stretching the cables too far, rolling over them or somehow breaking them. Even when they’re awake they do this as they move to get comfortable.
It doesn’t matter the length of the USB cable either. They’ll pinch off part of it then end up straining the cable at the points of connection.
ERRORS OF OMISSION
They don’t deliberately break them, I hope. It’s not an error of commission. When I tell my son that the reason his tablet isn’t charging probably comes from him breaking the USB cable, he insists that he didn’t do anything deliberately to break it. I believe him.
He simply didn’t do as he should have – put away his tablet prior to sleep. It was an error of omission.
But how’s he supposed to realize what to do before his mind and body automatically drift into sleep?
AWARENESS, ATTENTION, AND THE LIMITS OF COMMON SENSE
I’m 30 years older than him, but am I really that much more sophisticated than him? What if I’ve been doing the past 30 years wrong?
Lately, I’ve been making an effort throughout my workday to practice a working meditation. I simply remind myself to become aware of my awareness, to wake myself up out of autopilot, out of whatever trance my thoughts wander into.
There’s a comfort in letting my common senses take over, in ruminating in pessimism, in letting my mind and body go autopilot into survival mode or go tunnel vision onto some perceived threat.
By becoming aware of my awareness, I find myself looking around at everything I’ve seen millions of times already with a curious, “Hmmm… I never noticed that before. Why not?” It makes my workday slightly more interesting.
I ALSO REMEMBER A LITTLE MORE
I think a lot of what I used to label as a bad memory might actually come from not paying attention in the first place. Can’t retrieve information that I didn’t store, unless I’m more interested in making shit up.
When I re-awake myself throughout the workday, I shoot for a soft, broad focus. A bigger picture type of focus, and not so much the laser focus needed to grind away at some deep, specific task.
I find this type of focus and thinking more suited to me. Or at least more suited to my role within where I work. Philosopher Martin Heidegger said that we cannot talk about a human being, only a human being in the world.
My particular workplace and role within my family sets the context for my being. And my present context requires more of a broad, big-picture focus.
BACK TO MY SON
How do I get him to notice that he’s inadvertently breaking the USB cable by giving into his common senses and slipping into unconsciousness?
I’m not sure yet. For now, I’ve decided not to replace the USB cables, to let them break, to let the kids either learn from experience or to adopt a habit other than staring at a screen.
Well, I may have decided this. My wife? Doesn’t want to hear the whining. Maybe my first step is to get us on the same page with parenting.