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.

24 comments:

Sharon Staton said...

love the idea of living in the moment. I played candy crush - once. i deleted it from my cell phone apps. i dont mind a challenge. but I refuse to be held hostage by a game designed not to let me win.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. I love living in the moment, but it's still a choice you have to make every single time. It should come naturally, I know, but we're always being so distracted by the technology that's supposed to help us.

And you know what? I can't think that being stuck to a screen at the cost of living a life outside of it can be healthy.

Nerissa said...

Being outside and hearing songbirds sing is one of the most peaceful things in the world. It soothes the soul beyond belief.

mary kennedy said...

Wonderful post, Kate! I love the idea of "choosing" which emotion to go with and living in the moment.

Joan said...

It seems as if everyone else is moving ahead. I refuse to pay to play. I'm still paying off Farmville. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Amy W. said...

Love it!! I think you are absolutely right. I was addicted to candy crush, then I found out there were 300 plus levels and a different version once you reached a certain level, I haven't played that game since. I do play words with friends in the evenings, with some of my husband and family but it's more a friendly competition and if all I want to do is play one word and leave it at that for the evening, everyone is cool with that. No pressure. But I will tell you this their is nothing I enjoy more then sitting on my patio listening to the birds, looking out at how much I have accomplished in a yard that I have deemed evil due to the weeds and seeing my bleeding heart flowering and my sedum plants working there way out of the soil ... knowing I put them there to enjoy. Perfect post. We all have to be reminded to live in the moment because in the end, it goes by way to fast.

Amy W. said...

I meant to say some of my family and my husband ... not some of my husband. See what happens when the coffee hasn't kicked in. Hehehe

Karen in Ohio said...

Ha. I made the conscious choice to go no further in Candy Crush, and certainly to never BUY points and cheats. Why? Instead, if I feel the need for a displacement activity I replay old games. It was too stressful, which was counterproductive.

I'm often shocked by how little nature seems to be enjoyed. The other night I saw a rainbow while driving home, and I had to pull over to just look at it. No one else seemed to notice.

Tonette said...

Lovely! I need to get that peace.I am in the hard-fought midst of decluttering.As a life-long 'keeper' married to a real packrat, it is hard, but I need the quiet time.
Thank you for the encouragement.

Diane Vallere said...

I think this is the single most important thing a writer can do! Good for you for unplugging and opening yourself up to ideas. We should all use you as an example!

Anonymous said...

It was the Merlot Kate...lol! No, seriously, I find games like Candy Crush way too stressful for me. I find my respite in reading. I loose myself in the story. Find myself being able to take a deep breath and know that I am relaxing after a busy day. I'm happy and grateful that there are writers like yourself who provide me with a tool that is sometimes the best part of my day.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Wise words, Kate! Mindfulness with winefulness will work for me too. I love your pretty petunias.

Hugs,

MJ

Kate Collins said...

That's the perfect term for it, Sharon. Good for you!

Kate Collins said...

Me neither. We need to stay connected to nature, not to electronic devices.

Kate Collins said...

I love to try to identify the birds I hear, too. Do you do that?

Kate Collins said...

You probably use that technique in your "other" work, don't you, Mary? (She's a psychologist AND an author).

Kate Collins said...

I draw the line at paying to move ahead on any game I play. If it's that difficult, it isn't fun anymore.

Kate Collins said...

Exactly, Amy. I've learned not to try to anticipate what's going to happen tomorrow or next week or next year since my husband passed away. We just don't know what will be. So enjoy the moment!

Kate Collins said...

I hear you!

Kate Collins said...

And if they did, it was probably for less than a second.

Kate Collins said...

Thank you, Diane!

Kate Collins said...

I'm so happy that you feel that way. There's nothing like losing yourself in a book.

Kate Collins said...

I think you coined a new term MJ. Winefulness. Works for me! LOL

Aurian said...

O yes, those evil facebook games are so addictive! I usually manage to quit when I can't make a level, but I am addicted to Bejeweled Blitz. It has no levels, and each game lasts only one minute.
But my best friend showed me HayDay today, and .... I like it ... so now I am struggling not to search for it on my own computer, as I have reviews to write and books to read ...