Are You Paying Attention?

One of the things I’m learning right now in the Deeper study is to pay attention.  Reading straight through something without really thinking about it causes us to miss all kinds of things.

Today that got me thinking about how much attention I pay to other areas of my life.  A couple years ago I spent a week in Haiti.  It was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life.  I remember coming back and just being blown away by the sheer wealth that surrounded me.  Miles of clean roads, with sculpted medians and lawns, Nice cars, new buildings, and practically no garbage or rubble anywhere, except at job sites or occasionally in a “rougher” side of town.  But even there, it was pristine compared to what millions of people in Port-Au-Prince live in every day.  That city is literally a huge garbage dump.

Sadly, my perspective has faded, and I no longer see so clearly what beauty and privilege I live amongst.  I do recognize it occasionally, but most times I just find myself driving from place to place, not noticing what’s around me.  Not absorbing what I see around me, being thankful, and understanding how blessed I am.

Another side effect of this hazy perspective is that it really skews how I process what is going on in my life.  Whether I’m experiencing joy or struggle, I don’t always view it from the right angle.  For instance, if I’m dealing with a financial emergency, I might despair.  Visions of homelessness, or at least povertymagnifying_glass.ashx, cross my mind.  I forget that I have supportive family, a good network of friends, and for the time being, a job that I can go to to make more money.  As of yet, nothing I’ve encountered has been the end of the world as I’ve imagined it.  And in contrast to that – i probably don’t embrace life’s little pleasures like I should if I’m really understanding my great fortune.

I can’t expect to stay in that state of mind that I was in in Haiti.  Without the smells, sights and sounds of an environment, the feeling of the place leaves you.  But I think those feelings can return to a degree if I stop to really take in my surroundings.  Approach each moment with more attention to detail.  It’s cool how the technique we can use to get more out of the Word is the same way we can get more out of life.

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