Living with Intention (Intention: Part 2)

I’ve been living with intention for sixteen years now.

Correct that: I have been living with conscious intention for sixteen years now.

Or correct that: I have consciously been living…

I have been consciously living…


Intention (Part 1)

Use language to describe something you do not have language for

The above are not edits, they are attempts to use language to describe what I do not yet have language for. Each sentence has a slightly different meaning, each slightly different meaning fails to reveal the whole that I mean.

Living with Intention is challenging. The challenge is both frustrating – when I allow it to be – and rewarding – when I allow it to be. Living with Intention is the razor’s edge Maugham wrote about.

You are a verb and can only become a noun through effort

Part of living with intention means slowing myself down to the point that the universe stops moving around me. Or maybe I move so quickly I move with the universe, hence remain fixed in it. Phrased differently, Living with Intention means recognizing that you are a verb and can only become a noun through effort.

I pay more attention to what I eat. I pay more attention to my eating. I take time to savor whatever goes in my mouth (and whatever comes out). I find that paying attention to the tastes allows me to taste more of the individual flavors, to become aware of subtleties that I didn’t know were there yet obviously were, waiting for me to experience them.

As my awareness expands, my calmness grows. I find myself more restful while being readier (for anything) than I’ve ever been before (that I remember, anyway).

I discover selves I no longer need or can comfortably use. I thank them for their efforts and invite them to rest.

I’m now 68 years old, I was taught these things in my childhood then again starting in my late twenties and I’m just beginning to understand that it’s Living with Intention that my teachers talked about.

I practice guitar differently now than I did…even months ago. Once the recognition of intention is made, it grows and encompasses everything. At least for me. Practicing (anything) was a chore at times, an obligation. “I have to practice x minutes/hours each day.”

Practice for whom? That’s the question Living with Intention causes me to ask now.

I focus more on the individual movements of my fingers. The movements become natural, fluid, far faster, more elegant than they were in the past. I laugh at my mistakes (that alone takes practice). Recognizing that they’re simply mistakes comes from living with intent.

I recognize that I’ve lost my focus when things frustrate me. I remind myself to slow down. Relax. Learn what the frustration comes from. Deal with its source, not with its trigger. The trigger is the agent that reveals. Thank it, go on, continue.

Relationships take both less and more work. I question my motives for interacting with people, both as individuals and as groups. I don’t question their motives, only my own. In questioning my own motives, in understanding my own goals, I realize and understand theirs more clearly, more cleanly, more obviously, more quickly and easily than I did before.

I question more because questioning more leads to more understanding. And questioning. My own. What is my goal with them? What is my desired outcome? Do I want to be friends? Am I capable of friendship? Is that person capable of reciprocating in a way which satisfies both parties involved? Did they fail or did I set them up for failure by creating an expectation they couldn’t meet? What shall I do if I recognize that this relationship will never be what I want it to be? And then recognize it’s easier to end that relationship than continue being dissatisfied with the interactions.

Because I’m paying attention more, because I’m doing things consciously, more and more of what I do becomes non-conscious.

But part of Living with Intention involves becoming more aware of what I do non-consciously, discovering which of my behaviors are in conflict with my desires and why and what I can do to resolve those conflicts.

I exercise differently. I’m more aware of my movements, of my limits, my goals shift, my reasons for exercising become more self-directed than other-directed.

And I learn to be increasingly honest with myself. Even when self-honesty, the necessary sister of self-realization, hurts.

Learning to be a noun means learning to be a gerund because there are times when the energy around you is different from (unequal to?) your own and you must match it before you can work with it. Intentionally

Writing this, I recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I focus my intention on what is obvious to me because the obvious is easiest to recognize, but “the obvious” means “the surface” that I haven’t integrated into myself and so it exists unknown, unrecognized.

It is the unknown, the unrecognized, that truly requires my focus, my intention, because the unknown and unrecognized parts of who I am are the most dangerous to both myself and others.

And when I learn to live in the moment? Then I await the next…


Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis
Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist and holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. He served as Senior Research Fellow and Board Advisor to the Society for New Communications Research and The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future; Editorial Board Member on the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy; Advisory Board Member to the Center for Multicultural Science; Director of Predictive Analytics, Center for Adaptive Solutions; served on the UN/NYAS Scientists Without Borders program; and was selected as an International Ambassador for Psychological Science in 2010. He created a technology in his basement that's in use in over 120 countries. Now he spends his time writing fiction based on his experiences.

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  1. I loved this post Joseph.
    The examples you give about all the small things that are the big things that like a Japanese water feature collect the drops until its tipping point, and then the process starts again.

    A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away I learned about the levels of knowledge, from the not knowing we don’t know, through knowing we don’t know and knowing that we know to finally not knowing that we know. Is that the non-conscious knowledge you write about that you are drawing your ow awareness back to?

    • Thank you, Charlotte.
      It pleases me when people find meaning in my work.
      Levels of Knowledge – “Each morning wake a blank slate that the day may write itself upon you.” I suppose I’m reminded of Nicholas of Cusa’s “learned ignorance” although my training/research probably more closely aligns with the Perennial Philosophy than anything else.
      Happy to discuss it at some point if you wish. I’m much better at answering questions than simply writing as your questions guide me to what you seek, hence enable me to benefit us both, rather than lead you astray with my own wanderings.
      Paraphrasing Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigation’s “Tell me how you are searching, and I will tell you what you are searching for.” I offer “Tell me how you are searching, and I will tell you what you will find.”