Keeping track of what is important can be very challenging, especially when there is so much other less important stuff to keep track of. I have been struggling with this lately. And so have my clients. Every day we are bombarded with dire predictions, very real dilemmas and devastating circumstances stemming from the complex assortment of economic, social, ecological and emotional happenings. This comes hand-in-hand with tender encounters, bursting buds of spring, the sound of laughter, babies being born, heart ache, memory, desire, and of course the hugely annoying fact that we are simply exhausted from the relentless task of choosing brand A over brand B….X,Y,Z (think toothpaste aisle). Much of the time it seems we have a handle on things. Our ability to multitask is held in high regard and being busy is a badge of honor.
But what about the important things? To investigate this questions I suggest doing a thorough Attention Inventory of your current mental and physical activity. What specifically holds your attention throughout the day? Explore a typical day from beginning to end and review what captured your attention. This can be a very sobering exercise. You are likely to discover the degree to which you are fully, or not-so-fully present with people, issues and ideas. And this inventory will reveal to you the extent to which you are or aren’t attending to the things that matter most. To get me started on my own Attention Inventory I am committing, this very minute, to a spend some time every evening answering the extraordinary and thoughtful questions that the late poet/philosopher John O’Donohue composed– I invite you to do the same. Your comments and insights will be very much appreciated.
What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Whom did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence—why was I given this day?