May 8, 2003

Extreme Attention

by Gary Vierheller

Many of activities referred to as "extreme sports" have a consistent thread running through them. Usually the participants speak of the rush and excitement of the experience. Personally, I've found that whether I was skydiving, scuba diving, bungi jumping, or being a dancer, one of the most appealing aspects was the powerful surge of energy. Adrenalin was released and I encountered that special world of ATTENTION.

Yes, I believe that one of the greatest drawing factors in any activity that might be construed as risky is the utter requirement of undivided attention. Often you will hear participants speak of how alive they felt as they, plummeted, dove, drove, raced, danced, or tried something quite out of the ordinary. That gives me pause.

If I do such things and I'm really alive during those special, brief moments, what type of "alive" am I experiencing on a day to day basis? Perhaps just the bare minimum. I know it was true with me. During the time between my extreme moments, I maintained life with very little attention, and as is said, life passed me by.

One positive point from this realization is the heightened awareness of the need to pay attention to the now. I have found that the world is an amazing place if I simply take the time to notice. Yes, I still enjoy some riveting activities, and now, upon their conclusion, they help to remind me to keep my eyes open. Some might say I am a better "attention payer" and, I hope, better for it.

So the next time you find your heart pounding and your eyes wide from an "extreme" activity, or something as simple as going off an unexpected curb with your bicycle, say thanks. You've just been reminded to pay attention.

Gary Vierheller lives in Japan and is an English consultant and trainer for Japanese astronauts. He is on the staff of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and has been a member of ToDo Institute for the past seven years.

Posted on May 8, 2003 5:22 PM

"How alive they felt as they plummeted, dove, drove, raced, dnced or tried something different..."

Yes, this may be the case with "extreme sports"--and all things we give our full attention. In that case almost ANY activity can be described as potentially "extreme." Personally I enjoy extreme napping. Or the extreme eating of organic, slow food.

What would an "extreme life" look like? How might we follow the lead of others who have tred such a path?

Posted by: Denise Mosher on June 4, 2005 6:10 AM
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