I find it easier to notice and make space for the big events in life vs. the everyday mundane. I found it easier to line up my attention with intention, and my actions with hopes when I was planning to relocate to a different country, give a job interview, or build exciting new friendships.
It’s the everyday mundane that trips me up. Where I find it harder to see how my current level of attention and action might support larger intentions and hopes. It’s harder to see how my small silent actions will add up over time. Harder to see how that one missed walk with a friend will turn into weeks, months, then years of not seeing her. How long work hours and missed workouts will turn into muscle tightness and loss of flexibility. That a weekly yoga practice will create unexpected strength for heavy gardening. That the sweetest friendship will turn into a life-nurturing marriage. That a few gangly flowers will fill the yard with blazing color all summer.
Culturally too, it feels easier to acknowledge our big visible moments of joy, loss and growth compared to the everyday delight, grief or momentum we silently gather in our pockets. We tend to acknowledge the small moments as children, and for children, but it peters out as we grow. First externally and then even internally. Yet, our experience of life—which is very subjective—is shaped by the ever-flowing quieter experiences.
A moment of misdirected volcanic-anger at a loved one followed by a vulnerable and healing conversation can be as much of a life-changer as seeing someone we love after years. Friendships lost to distance and repeated moves can be as hard on us as breakups. The slow buildup of a beloved new skill as an adult can be as delightful as painting our first full watercolor image as a child. But we’ve internalized the message that experiences capturable by cameras are the ones we should seek.
When driving, we’re only able to notice the big trees and not the small wildflowers. Speed and distance make it hard. That’s modern life in a nutshell. It feels as if we’re being forced to drive through life faster and faster. For this experience to be checked-off so we can jump into the next. It takes some practice, but we can step out of this car and walk amidst the fragrance and thorns. Into the messy field where our joy, creativity and wisdom live.
“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”— Mary Oliver, Poet