The Wonder of Paying Attention

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is but I do know how to pay attention. – Mary Oliver

I have been spending time in the village of Doolin, County Clare, Ireland. The area is rich in beauty. The pale gray limestone rock slabs of the unique biological area called the Burren comes down into Doolin as a slender finger that runs right along the sea; a wild shore exposed to the full force of the Atlantic. Just to the south the rock turns to dark gray shale and slate that form the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s scenic wonders. I have been here many times as I have to the spectacular Sonoma Coast near to where I live in California. I am struck by the way these amazingly beautiful places can become so familiar that we loose our sense of wonder for their magnificence. This happens too with the people we love and the world around us.

My first trip to this part of Ireland I gasped as the beauty. It literally took my breath. Now I walked here countless times I find I have to be quite mindful of appreciating where I am and focusing on really looking and seeing it fresh each time rather than letting myself self into the fog of the familiar.

Recently I was walking down the lane on my way to visit a friend who lives here. He saw me approaching with my head down and shouted out to me, “look up, look out to the horizon, it will help you stay in the Now. You look down and that mind of yours takes over taking you out of the moment for sure.” I laughed as he cajoled me into the moment and appreciated the wisdom of the advice. So I started practicing looking ahead and really seeing the beauty anew each time I walk out. The glimmer of light slipping through the clouds sparkling the water, the astonishing green of the hills, the cows so full of curiosity. My friend’s comment reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s futuristic novel Island where parrots flew from tree to tree crying out “Here now, pay attention.” to call the people back into the moment.

Part of the gift of being creative is that it becomes a practice of being present to what is and seeing the world and our creations more fully in the moment and celebrating the world around us. What ways can you find to pay attention and see your everyday world around you as if for the first time.

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