Paying attention

“One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.”
Dōgen, A Primer Of Soto Zen

There's a wonderful Mary Oliver poem (Sometimes) where she talks about instructions for living a life, and the first line says: 

"Pay attention". 

Isn't that the thing?

But do we?

I mean, really pay attention; or are we distracted by a multitude of things, not least our phones, the media and having too many things on our mind?

Not that I'm one for reminiscing but previously, and I mean back in the 1970s when I wasn't weighed down by all this stuff, life was alive. Did I pay attention more than now? I think so but more likely I wasn't so easily distracted and I felt a oneness with my surroundings. 

It didn't last — and that's probably the same for most kids.

As I've remarked before, we were then instructed in the ways and means of the 20th Century, which meant to get a job and all that lofty stuff. Then, if we pay attention to anything, it's survival. Not the life and death variety, but surviving in a world (certainly this is my experience) that seems intent on crushing our spirit so that we fit in. 

But we miss so much. Even things like the food can become a chore and life becomes a little flat.

I wonder though what would happen if we could once again discover the bliss of the small things? The taste of a favourite food, the smell of fresh clothes, the sea breeze and fresh coffee percolating on the stove.

I don't know: it's easy to opine on these things but to live them...now that's a whole different thing.

In my case, work is a big distraction. Right now, it's a very necessary distraction but it so easily pulls me out my true self on the back end of another testy discussion,  the push and pull of a sometimes mean-spirited negotiation and all the vicissitudes that go with trying to do your best for people that rarely appreciate you let alone our inner world. 

I will try though to stop the rot. How, I'm not quite sure. Certainly turning up on Livejournal and writing a few poems on Tumblr is very beneficial but apart from that I know I need to be more mindful of my thoughts, to slow down and not to be afraid of not doing a single thing. 

We'll see. Perhaps I'll write a follow-up post later in the week and fess up to my paying attention sojourn.


— Ju


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