17 February 2010

Words to Ponder: Feb. 17, 2010

“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week while working at the Pork Palace, I gashed my thumb open when a wine stem I was carrying broke in my hand.
I was rushing to fill a drink order, and the next thing I knew I was hurriedly searching from something to stem the flow of blood and a broom to sweep up the broken glass. It was a messy cut, and I'm still not quite sure how it happened.

Although I may not know how the glass broke, I know for certain why. I was rushing to finish one task so I could get to another one, and not paying attention to what was right in front of me. A little more mindfulness, and I wouldn't be out twenty bucks for bandages, gauze, and topical antibiotic, and the Pork Palace would have one more wine glass in inventory.

Of course, the incident with my thumb is just one example of how attention and focus would have made my life a little easier. I'm guilty of not being mindful all the time, especially when I'm doing something that doesn't interest me or is in some ways a "mindless" task. I'll be washing the dishes, and my mind will wander off in all kinds of directions. I might start thinking of what I have to do next, or an old college friend, or who knows what else. In general, if I don't focus my attention, I'll think of anything and everything except what is right in front of me.

The funny thing is that when I'm actually focused on the task in front of me, whatever it is becomes more enjoyable and I do a better job. It is simply a matter of paying attention.

I think Emerson is saying much of the same. As humans, we're always looking for what's next instead of what's now, thinking of what else we have to do instead of being attentive to what's in front of us.

That kind of thinking keeps us from embracing the moment and living to the fullest. When we point our effort at the now, we actually start living. Being in the here and now is what it's all about.

So if I can offer any advice, it is this: Start paying attention and start living. Now. It's a great feeling.

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