Paying Attention

I have a rather unusual New Year's resolution.

I am trying to pay attention to the present moment, as advocated by Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now, which I have been reading avidly.

I am appalled at how my butterfly brain flits about from thought to thought – the past, the future, work, what to make for lunch – and spends so little actually enjoying the here and now.

So this morning on my daily excursion with the dogs to the woods behind my house I did my very best to stay in the moment. No more dreaming of novel plots and going through my day's workplan. I studied trees, branches, twigs, dew on twigs, reflections in dew on twigs, my feelings about reflections in dew on twigs…

I listened to roaring water cascading down the rocks from the incessant rain of the past few days, heard soft melting snow drop off bushes and smelled damp earth. Every time I wandered off mentally I snapped my attention back to the present. I had to do this about a thousand times.

But you know what? It was worth it, because I happened to notice my smallest dog standing on the edge of a bank, ears pricked and hackles raised. Normally I am so lost in thought that an alien spacecraft could land next to me and I wouldn't look up. So I stopped and looked over the bank. There was a huge black lumbering shadow about thirty feet away in the mist. I thought it was one of my other dogs, but quickly realized it was too big. It moved closer and then I saw it in all its hairy scary glory – a wild boar! I know they live in these woods as I've seen their trotter tracks, but in four years here I have never seen one.

I made a quick exit feeling slightly shaken up, but very excited that I had been rewarded for being fully present.

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