Like Stillman, I’ve been on sabbatical from the One City blog while finishing my master’s degree at Hunter and catching up with manuscript reading (and making translation deals!) at work. And, for the first time in about three years, I’ve let both my writing and meditation practice come to a halt. Leaving me simultaneously frazzled, distractable, and unreasonably lazy. Not fun!
But here’s a bright spot: one of my favorite projects represented by the Emma Sweeney Agency is pubbing in June, and I think it makes an interesting (if old-news) read for meditators everywhere. In DISTRACTED: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Maggie Jackson writes about attention from a western point of view, and offers up — surprise! — Buddhist meditation practice as a cure for our culture of surface-level contact. She’s primarily exploring instant communication, beginning with the telegraph, and leads her readers through the history of focus and distraction, making a frightening case for what we stand to lose if multitasking and superficiality continue to base our interactions with the world. Maggie gets into some really fascinating side-explorations about improving the attention spans of monkeys and children, and draws interesting connections to ADHD. If you’ve been reading a few too many dharma books these days, or have somehow managed to become a distracted mess this spring like me, it might provide some helpful contrast to pick this up — and read a book about attention written by a non-Buddhist for a change!