Tuesday, September 21, 2010

That Hollow Sound


"When a book and a head collide and there is a hollow sound, is it always from the book?" Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Not when it's my head. The trouble with learning to be present and mindful is that it illustrates just how often I am not present and mindful in my daily life. When I find my mind wandering as I slice carrots for the curry and sip my glass of wine or when I arrive home after driving the six-girl carpool on Wednesday afternoons and don't really recall any details of the drive itself, it is pretty clear to me that my head was the one thumping hollow.

I am truly in awe of how many tasks I can perform without really thinking about them. I often find myself disappointed in my girls for choosing the path of least resistance in their daily lives (doing a quick, sloppy job on their homework, dropping their plates into the dishwasher without rinsing them and tossing clothes in the laundry bin without removing the notes and rocks and house keys from their pockets first), but it occurs to me that my brain does the same thing. It has become so attuned to taking the same path time after time that I don't even have to be aware in a conscious way to put a salad together or drive home from the supermarket or fold the laundry. Our brains are wired to be efficient and effective which is why it is hard work to stay present sometimes. I am so accustomed to typing and petting the dog and listening for the UPS man simultaneously that to try and focus on just sitting with the dog and giving him my undivided attention takes real effort.

I'm pretty sure that I would not get much done if I tried to remain present in everything I do, but I am trying to find a few moments every day to stop and truly immerse myself in one activity at a time. Even if it is just smacking myself in the forehead with a book and listening for the hollow sound...

5 comments:

Carrie Link said...

I know, I know! i've often thought about doing an experiment to see if that's true, that I wouldn't get as much done if I slowed down and was present with each one. Maybe I'd get MORE done, but I'm afraid to find out!

Wanda said...

Are you familiar with The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence? A sweet little book.

fullsoulahead.com said...

Another book...A Thousand Names for Joy, by Byron Katie. It's little vingettes, a day in the life, of someone who is present.

It is soooo interesting.

Scott from Oregon said...

Introspection, memory, outlandish thinking...

Why would you want to give these up for the mundane?

You have developed a neo-cortex above and beyond that of any mammal. Why retreat backwards?

Deb Shucka said...

One clear moment at a time. I'm pretty sure if we could be present completely for every single one, everything that needed doing would get done, and probably better than it is now. I'll let you know if I ever get to that place. :-)

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