All too often in life, we confront the world with our hands and minds full of stuff. We have any number of things that can distract us from things that are happening all around us. We could be looking at our phones when driving, we could be thinking about work when our kids are wanting to play and have a conversation, we could be thinking about vacation when we are supposed to be thinking about our jobs. We could be putting hot sauce on a burrito when driving off a cliff. ( I actually saw a guy do this, it wasn’t pretty)
Regardless of where we are or what we are doing making space to be present and aware of what you are doing right Now can not only save your life but it could bring you many moments of happiness that you might have otherwise missed. Another way we can hold onto stuff when we should create space is with our the quality of our intentions or the quality we bring to looking out at the world.
“It is like when someone points his finger at the moon to show it to someone else. Guided by the finger, that person should see the moon. If he looks at the finger instead and mistakes it for the moon, he loses not only the moon but the finger also. Why? It is because he mistakes the pointing finger for the bright moon.”
If the person has decided; that the finger is the be all end all, that they are correct, that there is nothing else to see, That they are bored with the finger and would instead look at Instagram then the person has no space in their body/mind for change, and they may never see moon. They may never know the mystery of life unfolding around them, or the cliff they are about to drive over.
If however, the person creates space enough to think maybe I do not understand everything, perhaps the idea isn’t to look at the finger, perhaps the finger is an instruction to look somewhere else. Perhaps I have let go of the familiar so that I can see something new. Even if it means, that for a moment, they may have to look towards emptiness and be a little uncomfortable. Then and only then can the person start to be filled with the wonder of living. How can you be filled with wonder if you already know everything? Or know you don’t have to look because it can be googled?
I often ask myself what are we give up because of all of these distractions that we so willingly engage. My guess is the feeling of wonder and of mystery in a common moment is the first thing to go. How could there be wonder why would we even look? My guess is that it may have even gone past the finger and the moon Parable. At least in the parable, someone is choosing to looking towards the finger!
Though there is always hope for the younger generation. Today I was having a conversation with my son, who is at school in Chicago, He mentioned to me that he has started putting his phone in his backpack so it is a little harder to reach. I asked him about it and he said that he is having more and more stress dealing with the phone pulling him away from paying attention. He says there are some cultural agreements that we are supposed to answer our texts, answer our phones and pay attention to all of the things that go beep. He was wanting to pay attention and was noticing how hard it was to pull away from the obligation to the phone and its demands. So he has been putting it away. He said he has been spending time in the Art Museums since they are free to students and he has noticed that art museums provide art that is not only on the walls but in watching the people. So many different people with different backgrounds and social upbringings all in the act of looking at art. He mentioned this to say if he were there and filling up space with his phone he would have missed the interactions with mothers and sons, with people trying to understand difficult art, with people who have no idea what the artist is doing and making fun of it, people that are walking around trying to look smart, and kids talking with their parents about the art. The point is that there is always something to see. Always something to pay attention to a lot of humanity just whizzing by us looking at glowing screens that all provide a very homogenous experience just by the nature of the medium. I can only imagine that my son is not the only person feeling the stress that is part and parcel of the machine that speaks with total disregard for what you may or may not be doing.