7:30 BELLS: How to Wake Up Each Morning

Sometime being alive, feeling alive, knowing your alive happens quietly, in delicate chimes instead of great resounding clangs. Experiencing these quieter moments requires paying attention. Looking up from the manuscript I’m working on to watch the sparrows wantonly gobble the seeds in the feeder. Pausing while folding laundry to notice how light curls in the folds of the linen curtains.

Sometimes paying attention means stopping activity. This is difficult. We aren't about stopping. We're about getting things done, checking items off the vise of our To Do lists. No one has taught us to stop and pay attention because that doesn’t tick items off the  list.

Sometimes paying attention means fully focusing on what we're doing. We become completely engaged in what we’re doing—perhaps writing, perhaps planting seeds in the garden.

Sometimes paying attention means being able to consciously shift our focus from one thing to another. I can be completely engaged in writing a scene,  then look up and for a few moments be completely engaged in watching the sparrows. Then I return easily to my manuscript. This is quite different from being distracted. This is about choosing what to pay attention to as I move through my day.

When I wake up in the morning, I don’t want my first thought be—what will I get done today? Rather, I want my first thought to be—what wonderful thing will I experience today? And when I close my eyes to go to sleep, I don’t want to sigh over what didn’t get checked off my To Do list. Instead, I want to remember how I felt most alive that day.

My To Do list will never end. My life will. I want to experience it all, live the moments the world presents to me, and the moments I choose. I want to hear even the faintest notes of the ringing bell.

Pay attention to experience the range of life . . . 
from its clamorous ringing to its most delicate chiming.