ordinary events that gave me sudden insight into life.
In recent weeks my husband and I have been working diligently
getting things ready for a family gathering this summer.
We’re attacking jobs that needed to be done for a long time,
but—well, you know how it is.
At least most of you do.
During this time, I’ve also been pushing to meet some ambitious writing goals.
One morning my husband threw me off-schedule
by tempting me to let go of my writing plan for the day
in order to join him with a big cleaning project.
“Well, that was different,”
I said to myself that night as I was winding down.
“For a change, I’ve just been living all day long.”
This thought startled me.
What did I think I'd been doing the rest of the time?
Wasn’t I pursing goals that were very important to me?
Wasn’t that living?
But this day had been a break from following my plans.
It felt like drifting along on a raft
watching the clouds above me,
dragging my hand over the edge
feeling the gentle washing of the cool water,
hearing the murmur music of the river.
Totally unconscious of time.
Being isolated completely in the present moment.
Then, this past week as I was cleaning (Again!),
I ran across items I’d used when working to improve my Spanish.
“Well,” I said to myself, as I sorted through them,
“how many hours of your life are you throwing out?”
I recalled the time I'd invested, the concentrated effort, the self-disipline.
How had all that work benefitted me?
If I judged by how much I’d used my skills, perhaps not a lot.
Yet, I wondered, had the process itself enrich me?
I’d enjoyed it.
Surely it’d been good exercise for my brain.
"But let this remind you," I told myself,
“to be careful that when you’re preparing to live
you never let preparation rob you of living.”
So, how have these insights affected me?
I still set goals to help me accomplish my purposes in life.
I still strongly agree with Stephen Covey about putting first things first.
But now, in the midst of the process of reaching my goals,
I intentionally focus on enjoying the process more.
Who knows if I’ll ever reach the goal?
Besides, although it is very nice,
it’s not when I stand joyfully looking back on a finished project that I feel like I’m “living.”
That’s the satisfaction of achievement.
I experience “living” only when I’m truly immersed in the process.
That’s funny, isn’t it?
So, I’m working at becoming more attentive to experiencing the moment.
I focus intentionally on the beautiful things I see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
My goal may be preparing a treat for my family.
But, in the process, I live.
Feeling the strawberry’s seedy skin on my fingers,
it wetness as I slice it.
Observing the release of its fragrance.
Relishing the taste and feel in my mouth.
Second, I focus on savoring everyday interactions with those I love.
Really noticing them.
Their words and actions that make me smile.
The movements that characterize them.
The pleasure of learning how to relate to them in more satisfying ways.
How do they sound to you?
Might practicing them give you a stronger sense of being alive?
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