We collect data, things, people, ideas, “profound experiences,” never penetrating any of them. But there are other times. There are times when we stop. We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or its memory. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.James Carroll
Personally, I’m tired of all the data in my life. Most of what people want me to learn about in life is purely information, outside of myself, not very relevant to who and what I am. But data really does nothing for me–I might be able to pass a test or hold a conversation on a certain topic, but beyond that it serves no real purpose unless it’s related to the work that I do. I need to stop and listen.
I spend much more time these days trying to get in touch with who I am, and trying to get in touch with the world around me–the people and things with whom I share this planet. Since I’ve started trying to be conscious of things beyond facts and information, life has become much more gratifying and much more interesting. My dealings with other people have become easier and deeper, because I come from a place now of genuine interest in the well-being of my fellow human beings.
I stop often to look at sunsets, to actually see the tree that I’m walking by. I stop to think of why someone might have acted in a certain way or said something they said. I think about what I truly want versus what others tell me that I should want. I think about the leaves that I’m raking and how they represent not just the end of the cycle of life, but the beginning of the beginning of new leaves next spring.
This world does speak to us–not always in words or sounds, but in signs and symbols. Not all communication involves language, and if we can stop and slow ourselves down and pay attention to all that surrounds us right here and right now, then we can start to learn to understand the messages that we’re being given about life and life’s meaning. It’s a message that is being given to us constantly, and if we want to understand it, we do have to stop and listen and notice.
Questions to ponder:
1. When was the last time that you stopped to look closely at something that you normally don’t examine closely?
2. Why do we tend not to stop and look and listen all that often?
3. How might we help ourselves get into the habit of stopping and noticing things?
For further thought:
Imagine how our lives might be if everyone had even a bit more of the Wisdom that comes from seeing clearly. Suppose people everywhere, simultaneously, stopped what they were doing and paid attention for only as long as it took to recognize their shared humanity. Surely the heartbreak of the world’s pain, visible to all, would convert everyone to kindness. What a gift that would be.
Credit: Living Life Fully