These last days I thought about a particular state of mind that I may have partially described before (https://aghisladraws.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/on-disappearing-while-observing/ as a past version of this post), that is the state I feel most comfortable in – comfortable as in fully present-effective, not as cozily quiet.
This particular state of mind manifests itself when I’m able to pay attention to what I see best with my mind’s eyes. It’s the small changes in nature or in some person in flow busy with their task, and with a special joy, watching over someone taking a break. I blend in the surroundings (in the social meaning of it, as I don’t talk or move much, so not interacting means disappearing) and I become a sentinel, attentive and protective.
I first clearly felt and described it in a memorable sunrise back in my university years where we hid in the mountains to observe and count chamois (we ended up seeing none, but did see deer and wild boars). Our scientific success was dependent on our ability to be invisible to the animals around us. I enjoyed that so deeply! I was a pair of eyes and a logbook: I was nothing else. I have rarely felt self-fulfillment that intensely, the feeling of doing what I do best, and doing it very well.
I tried to explain that to my employers over the years, but mostly they thought I intended to be passive (which is the opposite of that state) or at least not ambitious (in the sense of ready to break old schemes). They managed to miss that it’s the necessary first step for me to become one with my task space and introduce manageable improvements. Starting to change things before even grasping their nature is at best a risky path (not because it never works; but when it works, it’s by chancey match and not by plan).
On a more personal level, I am often in this mindset with the people I can spend a lot of time with. I become good at spotting where their attention is, without them telling me, and make their work/actions easier. Some found it creepy, because they felt constantly monitored; others basked in the attention and enjoyed the assists. To rule out the creepy interpretation I have started to be clear upfront that I do it with a helpful intention and that I stop if that feels uncomfortable. This is when I act. When I don’t act, and neither does the other person, it’s the quietest mix of relaxation and reciprocal motionless attention.