Monday, June 9, 2014

Pay Attention!

by Kate Collins


My patio last summer
Yesterday after dinner, I took my iPad outside with me to my patio table, intending to enjoy the incredibly beautiful weather. I set it up in front of me, inhaled the sweet air, and started playing games. Great activity for a nice evening, right?

Until I got so frustrated by the levels I'm on (I HATE you, Candy Crush, Farm Hero Saga, and Pet  Rescue!) that I had to sit back, take a deep breath, and look around.

The water in the big pond behind my house was rippling along in a gentle flow. The light stratus clouds were feathering past. The red winged blackbird was warbling his little beak off, as were the robins, wrens, and cardinals. Two geese flew over, honking. A mallard landed in the water just off shore.

Directly in front of me, my newly planted petunias lifted their pretty, pink and yellow and white faces to the setting sun. The rose buds on my bush quivered in the breeze; and my itty bitty tomato plants bent to catch the last rays.

Feeling calmer, I opened my iPad, ready to attack that stupid game with a fresh supply of determination. I could feel my body tense, ready for the fight -- and then I thought, why am I doing this?

I see so many people with their heads bent over their phones or tablets, eyes focused, foreheads wrinkled, expression intense -- and I know that's what I must have looked like while I was trying to "play" those games. Is it play when you have to work so hard at it? Wouldn't' working at a game be an oxymoron? There is definitely a place for games, but not to the point where they're an irritant.

So I shut it off, went to get a glass of Merlot, and came back outside to take in those lovely sights all over again. And in the music of nature, I felt such a sense of peace, such a oneness with the universe, that I sat there with a smile on my face, breathing it all in until the sun disappeared.  And as I sat there, ideas came to me. Ideas for the book I'm working on now, ideas for expanding my garden, ideas in general. There was no stress, no rush, just a feeling of joy.

The buzzword these days is mindfulness. That's what I experienced when I shut off the game. I was being mindful, living in the moment. There are no worries in the moment because you can't enjoy something and worry about something else at the same time. You can't hold both emotions at once. So you must choose which one you want.

Tomorrow it may rain, literally or figuratively, but I won't think about that. Because right at this moment, I choose to be at peace.