There is often so much noise in our heads and around us that we miss important moments. Not so for a Wilmington, NC woman on her walk with her dog. She was not on her phone, or she would have missed it. She was not even lost in her own thoughts, unaware of what was going on around her. She was present. Because of that, she heard the crying of a baby in a trash can and saved his life. The identity of the woman who put the baby in a plastic bag and left him in a trash can has been discovered, but we do not know the motive. We do know that being present and the quick action of the woman who discovered the baby saved his life. The baby boy is now safe, and the woman who found him is so grateful that she was present to hear his cries.
We have many moments in which we miss important things just by not being present. We may be distracted, not aware of what is going on around us. We may be lost in our thoughts, failing to see or hear the pain of those closest to us. Or, we may see and hear, only to miss the important messages we would understand if we only slowed down enough to be fully present.
When life is in full swing it is easy to miss what is important that is going on around us. Maybe we can even understand that. But our most recent and current times have afforded us a unique opportunity to slow down and see and hear in a way not often found. Our Coronavirus experience has given us this gift, while also giving us much more that we may fail to see as a gift, but which in reality, may be.
I wrote last week about being present in the moment, not focusing on the past or the future. To be fully aware requires us to be in the present moment, avoiding the temptation of living in the past or future. While we really only have the present, it is easy to lose sight of that, and obsess over what was and what we think or fear will be. When we do so, we can miss the magic of what is.
How can we be more aware? How can we quiet the noise in our heads? What can we do to be more fully present?
First, we should turn off the external noise, at least some of the day. That includes the TV and all of our devices. We should be still and allow our thoughts to give us insight that the noise of our distractions too often covers. We can get active, paying attention to what our body can tell us. My favorite activity is walking, and I usually have my wireless ear buds in, listening to educational and inspiring podcasts. While I enjoy these, even they can mask what I can learn from just going within, without anyone’s words in my ears but my own.
Another idea is one Julie Cameron writes about in her 1995 seminal book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron calls this creative approach Morning Pages. First thing each morning after awakening, before doing anything else, one should write freehand on three 8.5” pages, whatever comes from one’s mind, not trying to organize the thoughts. Just write. Then put the pages in an envelope and seal them. Once a week, open the envelopes and read the pages. Insights from one’s subconscious will be found on the pages. I have done this at different times through the years. I recently found some morning pages from 2000 and reread them. I found a theme in those pages from twenty years ago about my thoughts that I needed to not drink so much alcohol. Nineteen years later, May 7, 2019, I stopped drinking. I may have stopped earlier had I continued with the morning pages. But then again, my subconscious thoughts written on those pages may have surfaced from that very work nineteen years later.
Being Aware can take many forms. What is most important is to find what works for you. Life is too precious to miss what we need to hear, understand, and know to be able to live it fully.