Effortless Effort

When you look at something quite bright for a while and averting your eye you notice its outline carried over and projected onto the darker surface where you have relocated your attention you can see the after-image of that thing floating there briefly and just as you notice it and attempt to focus and look into it the image slides (upwards or sideways), fleeing as it were the movement of your eyes, and the more you chase it the quicker it fades, but if you relax and replacing your attention you go back to staring again at the surface the silhouette slowly reappears and now—knowing that it’s going to stay visible only so long as you are not trying to focus on it and knowing too that as soon as you try to visually grasp it it’ll slip away—you manage to hold the after-image in place and in effect see it by half-focusing only and resting your gaze (sort of trans-fixed) slightly off-center to it—surrendering control while holding unswerving poise. This is, in my view, a beautiful metaphor for the fundamental principle that underlies such powerful experiential dynamics as mindfulness or non-judgmental awareness and compassion, creativity and the experience of flow, the interpersonal phenomenon of vibing and sexual escalation.

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