Our world is full of unexplored marvels. We pass by them every day. These reflections encourage you to slow down, notice life's treasures, and enjoy them rather than rushing through life. I encourage gratitudefor life's magic, the angels in your life,
Try to find your deepest issue in every confusion and abide by that.
D. H. Lawrence
I was sitting on my porch the other day watching trees blooming and cars buzzing by. I thought of how the nineteenth century psychologist William Jamesdescribed the world as babies first see it, a world of "blooming, buzzing confusion." Other psychologists have since speculated that babies can make more sense of the world than William James first thought. The dispute does not seem to have ever been settled to anyone's satisfaction. But then, babies aren't prone to lengthy explanations of their world view.
As adults, our world still seems to consist of blooming, buzzing and everything in between. Trees, flowers and plants slowly and gracefully unfold to share their beauty with us. People often buzz by, not wanting to share anything with us. They just wish we would get out of their way.
I have wondered lately where everyone is heading in such a rush. If we work ourselves into a lather trying to save a few minutes, what are these few minutes like when we finally get them? Can we enjoy them or do we need them to catch our breath after rushing to wherever we are headed?
Sometimes I think we are preoccupied with where we are coming from and where we are going, forgetting to enjoy the journey in between. I remember when I was young and our family would sometimes take a ride in the country. We weren't trying to get away from anything in particular or heading any place special. The ride itself was the whole point of the adventure.
What would it be like if we looked at our lives as a ride in the country? What if we got our minds off what we were trying to accomplish with our lives, even for a little while, and instead concentrated on enjoying the journey?
We don't often think to do this. Sometimes it is easier after a major illness or other setback. We are reminded that we won't be here forever. Even if we win the rat race, we are still rats.
We can slow down from time to time or even stop to enjoy our lives rather than letting them slip by as we race to our next destination. On holidays, we tend to take time out from our hectic pace, but often we find chores to occupy us rather than spending time with the treadmill turned off. We can even fret our way through vacations. We work hard to make sure we are having fun rather than just letting the vacation happen.
Do you remember the Simon and Garfunkel suggestion "Slow down, you're movin' too fast" from The 59th Street Bridge Song? I think they had the same reaction to the bridge that I had to the traffic whizzing by my porch. Our lives lie in the space between where we start and where we end. Don't let your life get away.
Life Lab Lessons:
When was the last time you took time out from your busy
schedule to just enjoy life?
What was it like?
When do you plan to do it again?
What do you think you might have missed while rushing
through your life?
What would it be like to live your whole life in this moment rather than constantly pushing yourself toward the next goal?
The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.
Recently I found myself at a funeral home following the sudden death of a friend, Mary Anne Graney. Near the guest book was a stack of cards and the invitation to write favorite memories of her to share with her family. I stopped to recall memories of her.
My first thought was her ability to make everyone she met feel special. This trait, in my mind, made her special. It was not quite what I wanted to write, but the right words to describe what set her aside from other people did not come to me.
This morning I woke up realizing what I wanted to say. What was unique about her was her ever present sense of wonderment. Hers was a rare gift which I have noticed in only one other person on a regular basis. I can't recall a conversation with her in which she did not display her gift.
I don't think I would have recognized her gift had I had not learned about it from a priest I knew long ago, Father Augustine Paul. It is a little hard to define but it has also been described as "thinking with a child's mind," or openness to experience and suspending judgment.
Cynics would call this approach to life naïve. Life is serious. We are playing for keeps. This is no time to fool around. Some people become caught up in the practical. They leave no time for things which are interesting, fascinating or even wonderful. Dreamers can be annoying to people who want to avoid the nonsense and just get things done.
Religionshave often started out with a sense of awe at creation and ended up becoming a justification for the way of life of its adherents. The writings of early explorers describe the wonders of their discoveries. Often the lands they discovered have become the focus of squabbles about how to use the natural resources they contain. A beautiful maple tree, which I admired for years each morning over coffee, was finally gobbled up by machines to make way for a store parking lot.
I have written before of the sense of wondermentchildren have. I still remember a photo I took of my son around age two, running through a field holding up a daisy he had found.
We become jaded by our pursuit of careers, possessions and money, known as the rat race. This is a good descriptive term which suggests roaring ahead full steam toward a goal with no awareness of our surroundings. Sometimes we lose sight of the goal and are aware only of the rat race.
We have another choice. We can reassess our goalsand decide whether they are worth all of our energy. We can work toward a balance in our lives, taking some time to appreciate the wonders around us. We can also share our sense of wondermentwith our more frantic fellow life travelers. Mary Anne thanks for your example.
Life Lab Lessons
What makes some people special to you?
How is your life better for your association with them?
What have you learned from their lives?
How could your life be more like theirs?
Incorporate their best traits into your daily life.