April 2017 Newsletter
Hello, and an excellent April to you!
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter. The photo above is me in my home
office, maybe taking a break from writing a newsletter! Do you have
a comfortable place to do the work you love?
Today's issue has an article about attention, which I believe is
central to a fulfilling life.
Are you paying attention?
As a solitary introverted child, I spent as much time as
possible reading books, one after the other, merging with
the worlds described in those pages. I did not have to
force myself to pay attention to the words, I wanted
to absorb every syllable. Today, many years later, it is
still obvious to me that if I give something my full attention,
I can more fully enjoy it or learn from it.
When I'm walking in my neighborhood and see someone on the
sidewalk peering at a cell phone, perhaps with a chattering
child in tow, I cringe. I know the parent or grandparent
is not really listening to the child, nor to the orchestra
of birdsong, nor glorying in the Spring scenery. As in the
picture, with a mind filled with static, the richness of
the moment can't be experienced.
Two obstacles to paying attention, which I have
to watch out for myself, are rushing and multi-tasking.
Studies have shown that folks who do one thing at a time
are much more productive than those who try to complete
several tasks at once. Yet I often hear people boast
about their ability to multi-task. If you're honest with
yourself, you'll admit that what you think of as
multi-tasking is working on one thing, then switching to
another, then moving back to complete the first task. I have
found it's more efficient not to rush, but to proceed
methodically, my attention only on the task at hand.
I'd like to say a word about enjoyment, which I think gets
overlooked in this accomplishment-oriented culture. It's
difficult to enjoy anything when you're not fully present,
not giving it your complete attention. I just gave myself a break
from work to take out the garbage, focusing on the experience
instead of giving most of my attention to what I would do next.
I savored the fresh air and the chirping birds, and smiled as I
pictured the lack of garbage in the corner of the kitchen when I
came back inside. I let my gaze play over the new green grass
and the snow that's still melting as I write this. And I could
give my attention more fully to my work after the short break.
Back when I regularly ran miles and miles, I often tripped in a
pothole or otherwise injured myself because I wasn't paying
attention. Many times I missed things by not being present. Being
fully "here" is the safest place to be, because you have access
to all of your faculties. And you learn more, as any teacher of
distracted students can tell you. And it's where the juice of
Real Life is. "They call it the Present because it's a Gift".
Pay attention, or you might miss your gift!
To read my thoughts on vision and attention,
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Enjoy the beginning of your April.
I'll write again in a couple of weeks. Take care!