Wonder Woman is the chosen character for my Halloween costume. I borrow my mother’s blue girdle and craft gold foil wrist and head bands. I stalk the discount store shoe department for the classic black boots and practice walking with long strides across the living room apartment. I spend hours cloaked in quiet power.
This week I attend the film Wonder Woman with my teens. I go to the movies a handful of times each year, usually to honor a mega ‘must see’ phenomenon or to squish beside my youngest child for special Mom and Me time.
Intrigue, curiosity and violence-dread accompany me to the film–and a twinkle of nostalgia. Two hours absorb my body as the scenes seesaw between childlike wonder and extended fighting.
I cling to my fifteen year old daughters arm shielding my eyes; practicing deep breathing as the human hunting and destruction ricocheted around the theater. I like the naive wonder in Wonder Woman’s character. I respect the values of courage, integrity and love. And crossing your own No Man’s Land.
The post movie discussion occurs several days later.
“Why are the violent scenes so long?” Could they not have accomplished the same plot tension in ten minutes of fighting as in twenty?
Two thirds of the movie is sequenced fighting scenes. I muse on why this holds our attention. Years ago Poppa, the children’s grandfather, observes my toddlers and summarizes their state as Short Attention Span Theater. The world lives in Short Attention Span Theater–ubiquitously checking our devices for electronic nudges to comment, decide, interact, like. The average persons attention span has decreased from 12 to 8 seconds since 2000 a Microsoft study shows.
We now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
I am a coach. I am trained to ask questions and focus on behavior. Understand. Change. Focus. Repeat.
What, I wonder, are the human drivers that chose one area of focus over another in a world of attention diaspora?
I wonder what behaviors underlie these drivers?
How can we repeat these behaviors toward increasing our individual and collective attention span in areas we choose? In areas the world needs?
What do we need to change to do so?
Yesterday I attend a half day workshop on Adaptive Leadership. I was reminded of the constancy of change and the brilliant power of knowing your personal and collective North Star. It was about understanding your intention and focusing your attention. Understand. Change. Focus. Repeat.
Hours later, riding across Puget Sound to my weekend getaway time loiters in the wind. Attention is personal and chosen. I wonder how many times a person can ride a ferry and be newly enchanted with the churning power of a vessel sailing across a topaz net of aqua stars.
I arrive. I am alone and quiet for 12 hours. I am rereading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisis Coates. A flustered robin stops on the bannister outside my bedroom, touching down a larger reality for an instant, darting away in the next. I think about change and intention. I pay attention. The moment feels quiet and long.
Longer than 8 seconds.