Presenceby Merry Coburn on 08/13/10
We live in an age of multi-tasking. Everyone including children are encouraged to do several things at once. Our culture suggests this is a virtuous way to live, to accomplish more in less time. I'm certain this is the wrong way to go. Too often I've fallen into the old productivity trap. A tip off for me is a nagging feeling of emptiness. A chance for a turn around comes each day when I walk the dog. For half an hour each morning and evening, nothing (and everything) happens-- without me. The ordinary world and the familiar woman I know are transformed. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, life begins taking on a new shape. Black and white switches almost instantly to 3 D and technicolor.
My recipe for falling into wonder is amazingly simple. First, find the dog and head for the door. At the end of the driveway my feet trace a familiar path down the country road. Moving further from the house thoughts gradually slow down and my mind gets quiet and more open. All my senses engage, first with the breadth of the sky and the softness of the distant hills, then with the gentian blue of wildflowers growing along the road's shoulder, the orange of a monarch butterfly tossed by the wind, a distant bird's song. There are late summer apples ripening on a nearby tree--something coming from nothing. That in itself feels like a miracle. How often have I failed to notice?
Twenty minutes from the house there is only "now". The experience of simply being is precious. If I've entered the flow I feel gratitude and connection, a state I call presence. My friend describes it as being in her heart. Thoreau knew this secret and described his experience in the essay entitled Walking. What would happen if you were to discover you were missing the best part of your life? This could be so. Try going for a walk and really slow down.