April 23


Today's quotation:

Sometimes during the day, I consciously focus on some ordinary object and allow myself a momentary "paying-attention."  This paying-attention gives meaning to my life.  I don't know who it was, but someone said that careful attention paid to anything is a window into the universe.  Pausing to think this way, even for a brief moment, is very important.  It gives quality to my day.

Robert Fulghum

Today's Meditation:

What gives quality to my day?  There are many things that do so:  When someone smiles at me, for one.  Many more people smile at me when I smile at them than otherwise.  Noticing a perfect drop of dew on a leaf or a blade of grass--I see many more of those when I look for them.  Birds singing in the trees, filling the air with their beautiful songs--I hear them well when I stop and listen to them.  A compliment on something that I've done well--and I get more compliments when I put a lot of work into something than when I do things quickly.  A heartfelt "thank you" adds quality to my day, too.  I get many more thank you's when I've done something for which someone thanks me than I do when I haven't done anything for anyone.

I see and feel and receive the things that give quality to my life when I actively try to see and feel and hear those things, and when I actively try to put quality into the world.  Paying careful attention is work, but it's not particularly hard work once you get used to it.  And much of the work consists in learning how to ignore all those other things that are competing for our attention, all those other things that don't give quality to our days.  The noise of cars and planes, the ads on radio and television, the negativity of political campaigns and the news--all of these things may have some importance to us, but if we pay too much attention to them, then where's the room or time for paying attention to the other things that add quality?

We usually decide what to pay attention to, but to be fair, there are times when demands of the job or of family or of any of many other things keep us so focused that we stop paying attention.  During those times, Robert's habit of consciously focusing on some ordinary object can be extremely valuable to us, if it allows us to see the many things that add great quality to our lives--and to appreciate them.

Questions to consider:

What adds quality to your life?  How many things that are completely free and that you can't own (like a bird's song) add such quality?

What kinds of things compete for your time and attention?  Are they all worthwhile things?

Have you ever actually practiced paying attention?

For further thought:

I shall open my eyes and ears.  Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person.  I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are.  I shall joyfully allow them their "divine, magical, and ecstatic" existence.

Clyde S. Kilby

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