Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paying Attention

Last week, it rained and rained and rained...every day for over a week...

Constant grey skies and gloom pushed us into our houses and the threat and reality of flooding for friends and family in Pennsylvania added gravitas to each weather report.  At dusk one evening, returning home from an errand, I glanced down the side path and noticed the hostas were blooming.  In the midst of days of clouds and lack of sun, these plants sent up shots and blossomed.  And I hadn't even noticed until they were in their full glory.  Obviously, I wasn't paying attention.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about paying attention.

My daughter referred me to a writer, Lisa Russ Spaar who observed in her interview printed in the online Image Journal that her "current project is always to pay attention."  My yoga teacher yesterday, after instructing us to pay attention to our breathing, commented that "paying attention leads to transformation."  And transformation right now is what I am seeking, as I shift from one stage of life to another.

It occured to me that my old ways of organizing my life, my weekly agenda, my clipboard, my desk, my bulletin board, my computer, were either obsolete or ineffective for a life of retirement.  So therefore, how do I make visible sense of what I am doing and who I am right now?

I decided to return to a discipline that served me well before a computer superseded.  I started a writer's notebook/journal...again.  I want a place to write, collect, muse, wonder, question, observe and organize the dailiness of my life. 

Before we began to write online, I had my students keep spiral-bound notebooks they decorated with images and words holding meaning for them. Housed in an old filing cabinet in our basement is a stack of writer's notebooks I kept right along with my students.  Their covers are filled with a few photos of family, images clipped from magazines, and quotes excerpted because they spoke to me.  Since I have been piecing and sewing lately, I decided to make a cover for the composition book I now use; then I proceeded to make a few more.  A patchwork cover for the book helping me piece together life right now seems fitting.

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, "What you look hard at seems to look hard at you."  I intend to try to look harder, ponder longer, breath deeper, move farther from the screen, sit up straight, read more slowly, and push my thinking in new and different directions.  And hopefully, transformation will begin.