Paying attention

Good morning.

As I type these few words, the sun is slowly rising.

My first vision as I drew back the curtains and looked out the window was seeing the dark clouds meander over Owley Beacon. All I could think about was: 

that's life.

Replete with movement.

But what's your reality of life when you really pay attention?

Why do I ask? Well, having lived nearly 53 years, I'm still amazed that people are offering a rag-bag of solutions to the vicissitudes of life. No names, but the template is oh-so-predictable: publish a best-selling book, go on the road (real or virtual) to promote it, make some money (hopefully) and then do it all over again. There's also a bias towards those that say or appear to have made it big or a bushel of academics who've stepped out the shadows of their teaching to become, if not superstars, acknowledged experts in their life-affirming, chosen field.

I'll be honest, I find it all very tedious. But then again, you've only to look at my bookshelves to realise how easily I was seduced to believe that someone else had the answer to life — my life. FFS.


Well, yes, I quote from a few writers — and two or three hold my attention — but the truth is that everything I need is right here, right now. As Thomas Merton would say, right beneath my feet.

Your life, if it's anything like mine, will be a mixed bag of things and sometimes it really hurts — e.g. loss, grief, poverty, sickness, failed relationships, love. Frankly, the list is endless. But, equally, there's also a lot to be eternally grateful for, chief among those: life. The full bloody catastrophe!

But what's your actual experience of life, and how might it guide or direct a more appreciative way of seeing the world?

For me, these are the accepted truths which inform my outlook and hold me in their sway:

1. everything changes — i.e. it's all an unformed or formless state of constant movement; 

2. the label does not describe the (apparent) form — i.e. if everything is in a constant state of flow, it's hard to see how you ascribe a fixed label to it;

3. there is no 'me' making any of this happen — i.e. I do not will my will. 

Of course, you may think this three-point affirmation complete and utter tosh — I'm cool with that, honestly — but then again, when was the last time out of necessity, curiosity or otherwise you really paid attention to this moment, as fleeting as it is?

A question I find helpful is:

what is there when there is no thinking?

No, it's not as silly as you think. Absent our layered and/or nuanced thinking — or whatever shows up — was is there?

See, I told you it was 'helpful'! Actually, it's almost impossible to say. Don't misunderstand me though. Thinking is very helpful when we need something like a glass of water but how it's meant to describe reality or what's happening in this moment, I'm not really sure?

You might ask, why do I constantly focus on the nature of or import of our thinking? Simple. Our thinking gets us into trouble; and our thinking gets us out of trouble. 

Oh, the other thing to note is that once we're expressed to acknowledge and pay attention to the reality of the moment — the deep, reverent meaning — life (at least for me) feels more humbling, more alive, more at peace. In other words, we're not at war with the what is. Don't worry, this isn't another instruction, far from it but, instead, an acknowledgement that much like nature, there's nothing to disagree or argue about. There's simply this — all of this — and it's happening whether we like it or not. If you don't believe me, stop what you're doing, sit still or lie down and see what happens. Life. It flows. Fully, at will, and without you having to do anything.

Of course, all this could be a complete pile of crap, lest still of any use to you. Indeed, my wife has chided me before now by saying, "I'm too heavy". Guilty as charged. But the fun thing is that I'm not trying to do anything save write a few words, and let's face it, not many people want to or are expressed to get up every day at silly-o-clock and do it over and over again. But I love it. No, not the writing — although that's fun — but the acknowledgement of the happening of the moment.

Everyone’s experience indicates that everything we are, and everything we do, is simply the movement of existence itself. It’s here that we come to the highest realization indicated in all the great spiritual traditions: we do not exist as anything apart from the flow of nature and that flow is an unformed, inexplicable dance accomplishing itself. — Darryl Bailey, Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion (p. 11)

Take care.

Blessings, Ju.

Photo by Zbysiu Rodak on Unsplash

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