Be Still and Know
Him: “Am I crazy? I feel like it sometimes.”
Her: “Maybe … but don’t worry about it. You need to be a little bit crazy. Crazy is the price you pay for having an imagination. It’s your superpower. Tapping into the dream. It’s a good thing not a bad thing.”
Ruth Ozeki (from A Tale for the Time Being)
Yes, we do need to be a little bit crazy. If nothing else, it helps us understand and interpret a world that in many ways is completely crazy. And besides, it let’s you “tap into the dream.” (The dream?! What dream?) Breathe in, slowly. Breathe out. In your still moments this week, be grateful for the ways you’re a little crazy — and maybe consider what dream you want to tap into …
“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”
Herbert Simon (1916-2001) American economist, sociologist, psychologist*
In this age of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and its related ills, we need to look at the obvious: the more information we take in, the less we are able to pay attention when we need and want to. “Too much information!” is more than just an occasional cry for restraint and privacy, it is a serious cry for sanity and mental health in the 21st century. Here’s a little challenge for you this week: See if you can find occasions when you can replace merely consuming more information with paying deeper attention… What would that look like? …consider a moment *For more on Simon and his work: HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_economy” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_economy
“I have a very full and busy life and occasionally I am asked, “Scotty, how can you do all that you do?”…The most telling reply I can give is: “Because I spend at least two hours a day doing nothing.”
M. Scott Peck (1936-2005; psychiatrist, best-selling 20th century author – The Road Less Travelled)
It seems to be one of the most difficult things to convince ourselves of: Doing Nothing is efficient, productive, life-giving, not a waste of time, and can be immensely enjoyable. “But I don’t really have time to do nothing!” you well might reply. It’s like the old monk told the learner, “You should meditate an hour a day. “But I don’t have time,” he replied. “Then you should meditate two hours.” Yes, it would call for a little bit of re-ordering your life. Why not give it a try? Any amount of time will do. Just what would “doing nothing” look like for you? Imagine it a moment…
Speed and Slowness
“There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting…. The degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.”
Milan Kundera (1929 – ) Czech writer
In other words, the faster you go, the more you forget; the slower you move, the more you remember. Picture yourself walking down the street, nothing on your mind, when suddenly you want to remember who it was you meant to call this afternoon. “Who was that?” you ask yourself, and automatically you slow down, rub your chin, and almost come to a stop. “Ah, yes, that’s who!” On you go now at your usual brisk clip. It’s human nature — unless those humans are “entrained” from childhood to lead an unending fast-paced life. The slower times used to be built into our lives — remember them? All but disappeared now. We now have to consciously weave those slower times into the fabric of our otherwise distracted lives. A s-l-o-w walk around the block, or its equivalent, today, with no specific purpose?
“My advice to you is not to inquire ‘why?’ or ‘whither?’ but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.” Thornton Wilder from The Skin of Our Teeth
Certainly there are times when the “why” and the “whither” have to be dealt with, but for the most part, we do that — take care of what needs to be done — quite well. But just enjoying our ice cream . . . maybe not so much. Too often it seems we are also doing something else — or several other things — while we are eating our ice cream. Wilder’s advice brings us into the present moment, into now. The next time you have ice cream (soon, I hope) — “just enjoy it,” and that’s all.
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