Hey, You! Pay Attention!

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

~ W.B. Yeats

I was driving home one evening recently, reviewing what I had and hadn’t accomplished on my to-do list for the day, mainly concentrating on what I hadn’t gotten done, too often my default brain setting. The radio was tuned to the usual news cacophony, and my mind was churning, anywhere but in the moment.

Driving toward home in the mountains, I suddenly I became aware of the rapidly evolving and stunningly forming sunset. The clouds were big and puffy and billowy, making me think of enormous hot air balloons in the sky. The sun’s receding rays tinged these clouds with ever-increasing brilliant shades of yellows, then reds and oranges. The sky was ablaze with color.

Oh, my.

My breath was taken away, literally. It was a phenomenal sunset. Wow.

I began to drive more slowly, to savor the light show, not wanting to miss one minute. I really should have pulled over, but that’s another story.

Then I noticed that I was breathing more evenly, the concerns of the day, the “shoulds” having magically melted away. I felt more centered, grateful that Nature had given me a wonderful opportunity to put things in perspective, to consciously choose to savor the moment. My to-do list would still be there but the enjoyment of the ephemeral sunset wouldn’t.

As soon as I drove into my driveway, I jumped out of my car and stood mesmerized by glorious light show, head swiveling left-to-right-to-left. Each moment was more beautiful than the last. My only thoughts were a litany of glorious adjectives for the beauty I was witnessing.

Gone were my worries, my shoulda’s, and the stresses from the day. I stood in rapt wonder. I was truly in the moment, and loving every second of it.

So, what did I get from this experience? I could easily have glanced at the sunset, and then gone back to my ruminations, to fretting that the day hadn’t gone as I had wanted, to reliving the past.

But I had made a choice: be here, now.

And my reward: a new perspective, full appreciation of the beauty around me, and serenity. I wasn’t in charge of anything. I had no expectations. I just had to be in the moment, and notice.

So my lesson, delivered so graciously by Nature, is to give myself permission to enjoy as well as to do, to notice more than just the items to check off my list, and to allow enough space into my life to breathe in the beauty that is ever present.

So, here are my questions to you. How often have you discounted or ignored such an opportunity? Too busy concentrating on what could have been or planning for the future? When was the last time you stopped and noticed — really noticed — your surroundings?

Your Call to Action

What would change for you if you gave yourself permission to stop and savor the moment? How would people know you had changed? Here’s some practice for you: set your alarm to sound at a random, unexpected time. When the alarm goes off, choose one of these ways of being, or even better, make up one of your own!

  • listen to the sounds around you
  • breathe deeply for 10 rounds of breath with your eyes closed
  • slowly register the colors and textures of your surroundings
  • concentrate the beating of your heart
  • notice the various patterns of light around you


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