I observed to my roommate a couple of weeks back that he seemed effortlessly present a lot. He responded,
What else is there to do BUT pay attention?
This struck me as quite profound. Aha! But unfortunately, I know all too well “what else” there is to do, and that’s to not pay attention. Id est: Internal, as opposed to external focus.
What does not paying attention look like? Like this:
I’m so wrapped up in my thoughts about future or past events that I’m not present to or aware of what’s around me or how I’m feeling. Sure, physically, I’m walking my dogs, but I’m thinking about a conference I attended last week, or maybe I’m texting; I don’t register any of my bodily sensations as I walk—the light breeze, the sun on my arms, the sound of the wind in the trees, maybe the scent of pine, how my dogs look happily trotting along, or the way a shaft of sunlight filters through foliage onto the sidewalk—my attention isn’t focused on what’s going on around me right now—I’m essentially not there at all, I’m completely in my head.
It’s kind of like living with the lens cap on; you’re snapping photos, neurons are firing, you’re walking and even talking, and you’re actually in a physical location, but good luck recalling anything about it and trying to go back and look at the pictures. Not being present actually bites you twice—once on the face, and once on the ass. In the face because you’re missing out on your life right now in this moment (which essentially, is all you’ve got), and once on the ass, because you’re not making or storing experiences for yourself that you can go back later and enjoy or learn from; you’re just taking pictures of the inside of the lens cap.
We all think a lot, it’s just what we do. It serves a vital purpose, and obviously, we need our thinking brains. But I for one aim to use my brain to actually experience more, and to preview, review, rehearse and rehash (i.e., think) a lot less. The more we practice, the better we get. I challenge you and me both to consciously practice to live more present and fully aware, more of the time, lens cover off. Say “Cheese!” LiveLove&BU.
Photo Credit: CreativePeter