• Martha Clark Scala

Temporary Obliviousness

Updated: Oct 4, 2019


March, 2017


The Upside of Temporary Obliviousness

I suppose all relationships have their polarities. The most pronounced polarity I witnessed between my parents was in the realm of awareness. Mom? Vigilant. Dad? Oblivious, by comparison.

Mom complained frequently about her tuned-out husband and I found myself leaning toward her side of the fence. But in the many years since I watched them do their polarity dance, I have come to appreciate the benefits of occasional obliviousness. Dad was a great teacher even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Obliviousness, the state of being unaware of what’s going on, can be a great antidote to the barrage of disturbing news, shares via social media, and too much input. I bet I am not the only one who feels a strong pull, at times, to plug my ears, and close my eyes. It can feel like an assault on the senses, especially if you are a highly sensitive person. A possible remedy? Temporary obliviousness.

You might use mood-altering substances to tune out. In moderation, I suppose that is a sufficient option but that is not my campaign. Rather, what about pursuing a more mindful oblivious state? It’s not so much about checking-out as it is about exercising choice: what can you check-in to? This requires some restraint. If you have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), you may have to quiet that concern in order for this strategy to work. If you are compelled to be on top of the latest, be it news, fashion, gossip, music, tweets or whatever, perhaps it would help to say something like “What I don’t know can’t hurt me (for now)” to yourself. The goal is to get some relief from the deluge of excessive stimulation. Do you think this could bring more joy into your life? I know what my Dad’s vote would be: a quiet but resounding yes.

A Recipe

Just as no recipe will meet each person’s dietary needs, there is no universal recommendation for achieving chosen temporary obliviousness. That said, it might help to think about what over-stimulates you the most? What gets you all worked up or agitated? If devices are a primary culprit, your temporary obliviousness may require unplugging. (I heartily recommend this.) If people-time over-stimulates you, claiming some time alone is a good prescription. If it’s work, can you take an unexpected day off? Is the next vacation planned? Do you leave your desk, exit the building, or see the sky during your workday? If not, these are remedies you could try. Most recipes can be embellished: why not experiment until you find one that tastes yummy to you? Bon appetit!

Don’t Judge!

Polarities present a challenge to appreciate the other end of the spectrum. Mom saw Dad’s obliviousness as a problem, and tended to judge his opposite style. I bet Mom’s 24/7 vigilance was an issue for Dad, too. Who would want reality flapping its wings at you when you prefer to be oblivious? In all polarities, there is something for us to learn. Mom could have used some obliviousness; Dad could have been more awake or mindful at times. If we regard the opposite of our preferences as our teacher, rather than foe, perhaps more joy is in store for us. Our household found common ground by escape into watching sports. This activity unified us, and the judgments fell away for the length of a game or tennis match. May you and your loved ones find common ground in some temporary obliviousness soon.


Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.

Prompts for Joy

Click here to see a perfect illustration of the idiom, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” (Thanks for sending this my way, Ellen Moore!)

Click here if mindful meditation appeals to you as an option for temporary obliviousness.

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.

Pictured Above

Part of my recipe for temporary obliviousness is to be close to natural beauty and far from the masses. It particularly helps if it is out of cell phone range! View from Bodega Head in Bodega Bay, California.