The more you study delight, the more delight there is to study… I felt my life to be more full of delight. Not without sorrow or fear or pain or loss. But more full of delight. ~ Ross Gay
Hello dear friends,
I know, it’s been a minute since I’ve written a “Note from Elizabeth.” The last one was from January. (Remember January, when “doom scrolling” wasn’t a thing?)
What’s amusing to me is that the title of that note was “2020 Ain’t Messing’ Around.” I shared how January 2020 was full of plot twists for us. Lots of unforeseen events, including significant plumbing repair, Moxie having major dental surgery (with complications), and a car unexpectedly going kaput.
Little did I know what was on the horizon for us all. I do hope you and your loved ones have been (and are) navigating these times in health and grace.
One thing that’s surprised me is the impact of being at home alone for long stretches. I’ve never been on a silent meditation retreat. Still, I imagine that there’s a similar experience of being with one’s thoughts (for better or for worse) without having access to the usual outlets of distraction.
The things that filled my daily life before — yoga classes, hikes with friends, window shopping, writing, and reading in coffee shops — weren’t necessarily distractions per se. But their blanket removal from my life has forced me to become even more intimate with the contents of my inner landscape. As a result, I’m becoming even more aware of just how life-giving (or despairing) my thoughts and the way I use my attention can be, regardless of my external conditions. And really, the choice is only mine to make.
So, perhaps born of necessity (yes!), but also a silver lining to these times, is the opportunity to deepen an intentional attentional practice. Choosing not just where I place my attention but how I place my attention, how I attend to things.
Forty-eight days ago, I began #100daysoftrees2020. Every day, for 100 days, I go outside and take a picture of a tree, or whatever grabs my attention in the landscape. To see if I can cultivate the “life-affirming” in my thoughts and focus.
It’s simple, but the impact has been profound. I’m enjoying the peace and mystery of moments—giving generous attention to the way the osprey calls its mate after making a catch in the lake, or how sunlight filters through a Madrone grove in the late afternoon. In those moments, whole realms of mystery, discovery, and new connections become available to me.
Most of all, what this practice is teaching me is that the more I look for what’s life-affirming, the more there is to see. The universe is generous in that way. The way it says “yes” to wherever and however I want to direct my attention and guide my thoughts.
How are you cultivating your attention in these times? What practices do you have? I’d love to know.
And, thank you for your attention today.