“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” Julia Cameron
I have a friend who is one of the most amazing listeners I’ve ever known. When I stand in front of her, she looks me in the eye and engages with my stories by laughing (usually while flipping her hair), asking questions, and adding comments that make me feel like I’m the most important person in the world. She’s the friend who, even weeks later, seems to remember where the story left off and asks specific follow-up questions. I LOVE hanging out with her because of her incredible ability to pay attention and DELIGHT in whatever the conversation serves up.
Everyone loves friends like that.
I don’t know about you, but I want to have those kind of wits (and attention) about me as I walk through the world. I DON’T want to be “that girl” who falls into a mall water fountain while texting. I also don’t want to be the person who always has some sort of gadget standing between me and my kid’s silly story or my friend’s need for a chat. I have to remind myself to lay down the phone, put away the book, peel my eyes off of the TV, and pay attention to the world around me – the Three Dimensional world.
If I have any hope of finding delight in the world around me, I have to be available to actually notice that world around me. I have to show up and pay attention. That’s easier said than done because, well, I like being “connected” to the information superhighway. However, that highway OUT THERE doesn’t always encourage me to stop and engage with people RIGHT HERE. Knowing this fact, I try to take a few reality checks that often smack me upside the head and call me into focus.
Here they are:
* How many times a day am I more than 10 feet away from my phone?
* Outside of the work environment, how much time do I spend on the computer?
* Is “huh’?” one of my most frequently asked questions to those around me?
* Does the TV fill my family meal time?
* Do I ever REALLY unplug?
* If I left my phone at home for a day, how cut off would I feel?
* Do I value my electronics more than my conversations?
* Am I texting while driving or really checking the GPS?
* Am I paying attention or just looking at a screen for entertainment?
* Am I missing the depth of experiencing beautiful moments in my life because I am too busy trying to film, photograph, tweet, or Facebook it?
My answers to these questions provide a gauge to my attention meter and, more importantly, my capacity for “delight” (as the quote says above). When I’m out of kilter, I must face the challenge to back off and walk away from the ol’ Apple products.
This coming week, I will have the chance to spend extended time with my work colleagues on our annual sales retreat. There will be an assortment of new and old friends who are almost always a plane ride and often a few time zones away from me. I best take advantage of our close proximity. Our time together gives me the chance to unplug, pay attention, and delight in hanging out with a group of super smart, fun people I don’t get to see enough. I want to find delight in my time with them which means that I need to show up and pay attention.
I may be lost without my GPS, uninformed about breaking news, tweetless, and a bit disconnected from the status updates of the world, but at least I’ll be present.
And, that, in itself, is a present.