Paying attention

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.

Anne Lamott
Photo by Ed van duijn on Unsplash

Many years ago, I wrote a quick post on the importance of paying attention. The poem that led me to that first post was Ted McMahon’s poem Grapefruit. I can easily slip into this early morning scene, and I am captivated by all of the sensory details.

This week, I borrowed a new Julia Cameron book from the library, The Listening Path The Creative Art of Attention. I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron and her morning pages led to my journaling practice. This book is identified as “A 6-Week Artist’s Way Program.” and chapters are broken down as weeks. Listening to Our Environment, Listening to Others, Listening to Our Higher Self, Listening Beyond the Veil, Listing to Our Heroes, and Listening to Silence.

While I want to jump ahead to Listening Beyond the Veil, I started with the first week, which discusses tuning in to your daily soundtrack. I am grateful I live in a quiet neighborhood, but we are off the main road near a major hospital, so in the spring with open windows, I hear the low traffic noises, and right now, there is the sound of the life flight helicopter.

Beyond that, I hear the wind chimes from both the front and back of the house, the sound of the dog door swaying back and forth, and then it stops as the magnets hold. There are heavy steps on the porch and the creak of the opening and closing of the mailbox.

The room is quiet, but there is a constant hum from the stereo receiver, which echoes through the speakers. Turning off the receiver, there are beautiful bird calls from right outside the window: chickadees, mourning doves, flickers, jays, and finches, all with their unique songs.

In the kitchen, water runs to the freezer and ice cubes drop. Even in a quiet room, there are so many sounds if you stop and pay attention. My fingers click on the keyboard keys. My dog snores gently after her walk. I wind the mantle clock, the tick-tock is comforting to hear even though it doesn’t keep time.

I am reminded of an advisor-led walk at Goddard, a listening walk, where a group of students was led through the woods and instructed to not talk and instead pay attention to all of the sounds. When we came back from the walk, we all contributed what we heard to a poem.

What does the soundtrack of your day look like? How could you add sound to a poem as Ted McMahon does with these lines from Grapefruit, Doves cooed outside and the last night-breeze
rustled the palms against the eaves.

Now get back to work!


The Writing Nag

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