I live in the country, in a small town with a little over four thousand residents. Our center consists of a bank, a tiny post office, and a pizza joint with really delicious food.
While we don’t have the excitement and stimulation of city life, we have a different sort of magic. Yesterday morning I was aroused from sleep by an orchestra of honking overhead. I opened my eyes just in time to see a large flock of geese fly by my bedroom window announcing the start of the day.
Later, as I walked around our neighborhood practicing the art of mind-wandering instead of listening to podcasts or books, I thought about how the last two years have fostered such a deep appreciation for the natural world. Seeing indoor restrictions as an invitation to spend more time outdoors has opened my eyes. I had no idea that the forest floor changes color nearly every day until I started paying attention. As I listened more carefully to the birds in my backyard, I discovered a far greater variety of daily visitors. And, not a day goes by that I don’t stop to study the striking silhouettes of trees against the winter sky.
Johann Hari’s new book, Stolen Focus, has been a helpful companion in my desire to be more present in life. His stories and studies about our waning ability to focus have inspired me to reclaim my ability to think deeply, to turn my attention to the things that matter for longer than three minutes, and to loosen my grip on the technology that has claimed so much of my life.
This afternoon, as lazy snow falls outside my window, I intend to finish a novel I started a few days ago. It’s another gift from the pandemic – a renewed interest in reading actual books. Turns out it’s a way to strengthen the brain muscles that allow us to focus. It’s also a chance to enjoy the flow state generated by a complex story that’s pleasurable and captivating.
Taking the time to enjoy the life that already exists in the here and now can be surprisingly rich and satisfying. Good books, lacey trees, honking geese, and slow-falling snowflakes are just some of what you discover when you slow down the speed of life.
PS – Join us for our next free Zoom gathering this Wednesday (2/16) at 4pm ET/1pm PT where I’ll continue our journey in cultivating a calm inner state. You can register to receive the link, here.
PPS – Ready for an adventure that will literally change your life? Learn more about our next retreat at the end of April, by visiting, here.