We often hear the words “pay attention” and slip back to some distant memory of being scolded by a teacher or a parent. In reality, this simple command has so much to offer us. When the student asked the Zen Master “What is the path to enlightenment?” the old master replied “pay attention!” Surely, thought the student, there is more to enlightenment than this. “What should I pay attention to?” asked the student. The master replied with more emphasis “pay attention to your attention!!” “But how?” asked the student. The master, in desperation, swung his cane at the student and yelled “pay attention, pay attention, pay attention!!!”
The point is not what you are paying attention to, but that you are paying attention at all. I imagine that many of us are paying attention to the glory of spring we see blooming around us as we continue to “shelter in place.” But what about all the other days of our lives? What would happen if we used this pandemic pause to pay attention to the world around us, nature (even on a rainy day), our loved ones, our living room, or ourselves? We might realize that there is more to be seen than can ever be seen right before us. We are so often distracted by screens and the news that we fail to find wonder at a dust mote as it hovers in the sunlight through a window. When I was younger, I imagined that each dust mote was an angel holding the light so we could all see. What if you were to take the world around you right now as your screen, and then add to it some imagination as to what it would mean as an ant?
How we see the world tells us a great deal about how we see ourselves. I invite you to share with me what you see around you right now, in the physical and imaginary space of our lives, living as we are in this pause of time. Will you share your attention with me?
Stay well and stay in touch,