The Healing Power of Paying Attention

My friend asked if I’d been doing much writing lately. Given how little has been posted to this blog, you wouldn’t expect my answer to be “yes.” But, yes; I’ve been writing. And no; I haven’t been posting. The ravine between has been carved by troubled times.

The words in my head follow me as I walk through these dark days. Thoughts of political unrest, civil injustice, COVID fear, and environmental harm all make it to the page but never the outside world. The reason: there are fuses lying around, next to almost every word. If I allow just one unintended spark, I’ll need to defend myself from unstable dynamite.

Today, however, I read something that inspired courage, something that speaks to our collective suffering and offers a glimpse of hope, hinting at a silver lining after all. It goes:

“Pain is what it took to teach me to pay attention.”

Julia Cameron wrote that in her book, The Artist’s Way.

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We are in pain as a nation. Julia’s advice is outside that context, but when we consider the value of paying attention, we see the power in her words. Especially since she follows with:

“The reward for attention is always healing.”

I hurt my back last month. The pain forced me to pay close attention and control my movements. As a result, I healed.

Pain stinks, no doubt. But better we move through it attentively than remain stuck in ignorance to the fact that changes are long overdue.

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