Monday, April 1, 2013

Practice Presence - Part 2

Some days finish with a satisfied sigh, others with a groan of regret. How do we infuse every day, even the meaningless ones, with zest? How can we recognize even the most mundane minutes for the gift they are?

Addo Elephant Park, South Africa by exfordy
Addo Elephant Park, South Africa, a photo by exfordy on Flickr.

I'm not an expert at this—not by far—but I have a thirst to learn how it works, and I've been experimenting. I've gathered a few insights from my lessons, rather like picking up scattered puzzle pieces and trying to find the hidden picture.

As I drove down the highway in my parents' Explorer today, I rolled the windows down. Unusual for me, but it was a balmy spring afternoon—the first in weeks—and it also helped that the inside of the vehicle smelled like gasoline. Hence the gale-force winds whipping through the cab. But it was all for the best, because if I hadn't broken the usual barrier between myself and the outside world, I wouldn't have realized how much we miss with the windows up.

Most of us live in this bubble, a dead space where we're numb to the beauty and importance of what goes on around us. You know how you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone? How about we break that bubble and find out what we've got right now?

One way to do that is to open a window. I discovered this while in a car, but you could do it at your office, in your schoolroom, or hiking in the Rockies.

When I rolled down the window I was able to smell the hearty odor of fresh turned soil. I paid attention to the alarmingly loud whoosh of passing cars, as if for the first time. I caught the distinct whiff of a chicken truck, and heard quick snatches of insistent birdsong.

Opening the window, breaking the bubble, heightening my awareness—it enriched the whole journey for me and made it much more than a well-trodden commute. I actually shut my iPod off and listened to the world around me.

You can do it too. Right now. Tell me how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Noise. I relate. I've not had an iPod touch for nearly a half year, and life has been great without a constant soundtrack (and angry birds... I was an admitted addict). I'm still without a portable music device currently and I listen to mostly Christian music now, too instead of collecting every song ever sung. I listen to music only when writing or in the car, and even then, I often ask for it to be turned off. I've learned to enjoy birds singing. Laughter. Dogs. Chatter. Trucks rumbling by. The sound of air whooshing past me as I ride my bike. Silence as I write. "All nature sings and 'round me rings, the music of spheres." It's freedom!

    Instagram and Facebook were other things that divided my attention instead of being all there wherever I was, I still looked into the screen on my ipod to see what the people I wasn't with were up to. Then was the mentality of "I am so glad I did this/ate this/made this/met these people! I have to take a picture of everything and share with my all friends right this second!" I spent a large portion of my day staring at other people's pictures and lives. All my updates were instant. It wasn't wise. Now I don't have either account and I'm so happy. it makes my day definitely more productive and meaningful.


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