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Consciousness is involuntary

Consciousness is not always voluntary.

How many times have you drifted off into your thoughts while sitting in class? While someone who you're talking to just doesn't seem to stop? While reading a book? (While reading this blogpost?). I'm assuming too many times to keep count of. At least, that's the case with me.

Why is it so hard to stay focused at times?

It is not that what we're supposed to be doing is boring. This can happen in the middle of the most interesting of lectures or conversations. Boring and interesting are relative after all. For you to find something interesting, you need to ensure that the line of thought in your head is less interesting. Otherwise, you're bound to find the task at hand boring.

Is is that simple though? Is it enough to have a relatively less interesting line of thought going in our heads to find something else interesting? I believe it is. All we need to do is restrict the line of thought in our head to a less interesting one than the task at hand, and it will instantaneously vanish, leaving us free to direct all our attention towards the task at hand.

If only that were the end of the story.

The problem with our sub-conscious is that it keeps throwing new lines of thought into the limelight, that is our mind, as and when we deal the existing one the boot. So, we can keep kicking more interesting thoughts out and new ones keep cropping up. Its like trying to stand on one leg with both hands in the air in an open field after sunset. You get your hands down, squash a mosquito, get back to position. You can repeat this all night at any frequency and you'll still not be able to hold the position you intend to for long. Trying to relegate thoughts to the back out of your mind's eye's horizon is as vain a task.

So what's the solution? Did you have to read all this to get back to square one?

Well, I guess so. I can't seem to think of a solution to this problem, which makes me think that consciousness is involuntary. It is not up to us to decide what is interesting and what is not. We just identify what arrests our sub-conscious as interesting and what fails to as boring.

What do you think?

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