Still reading The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction. It’s a short book. Seriously, it’s so short I should already be finished, but I only have time to nibble a few pages at a time. It’s okay to go slow, though, and ponder his ideas. That is, in fact, one of his points: take time to reflect.I was pleased to read at the end of Chapter 2 a few words about the benefits of writing about our lives:
By the way, science has determined beyond a doubt that writing about your life—present and past—can be good for both your body and your psyche. Among other things, it strengthens your immune system and reduces the damages of stress. (Forni 28)
I knew writing about life was good, but I didn’t know it strengthened the immune system. All the more reason to blog, right?In a section about multitasking, Forni refers to a woman named Linda Stone (whom he described as “a distinguished expert on the impact of the new technology on our daily lives”) and borrowed her phrase “continuous partial attention” to describe how many of us spend our days (32). It’s a wordy way of saying “inattentive,” but the phrase sticks with me, reminding me of the importance of devoting my full attention to people and tasks. I don’t want to give my family, friends, and work “continuous partial attention.” I want to be fully here.He does, thankfully, assure readers that a person’s power of attention can be strengthened with training and practice. Among other things, he advocates taking time to reflect and write down the activities of the day. Preserving them in this way honors each moment we’ve been given. Engage with life, Forni advises, so that it doesn’t slip away:
What remains of all our yesterdays if we spent them without attention and conviction? It is as though we never lived them…We did not value life enough to pay attention to it as it was happening…The more you value life, the more you engage with it. (37, 38)
Oh, let me cherish the moments.
I personally hate surprises, but I love surprising others who love to be surprised.See “Learning” (below) for details.
This weekend I arrived at a local elementary school to celebrate a friend’s 75th birthday. Her family concocted various excuses that led her to the school cafeteria where we were waiting, trying hard not to whisper too loud in the dim, echo-y space. As the school nurse, she has keys to the building and could let herself in. She walked down the hallway toward the room, and when she stepped through the doorway, someone flipped the light switch and we all shouted “Surprise!” and her face, oh, her face, her whole self, seemed overcome by a wave of love.One of the highlights of the afternoon was the open mic. Friends and family took turns at the mic telling stories, praising the birthday girl, rising up and calling her blessed. She has never been rich from the world’s perspective, and she’s never taken to a hobby, but “she collects people,” one of her daughters said.There we were: her collection, perched on metal folding chairs, sipping orange punch, eating slices of chocolate cake, delighting in her.Under the fluorescent lights of the elementary school cafeteria, I realized this is how I want to celebrate my own birthday in 30 years: Laughing with friends, telling stories, scanning the room and marveling at God’s treasures placed in my life for a year…or a lifetime…to love well.
This morning my son and I started down the front hallway in opposite directions. As he turned sideways slightly to pass, I reached out to hug him. He turned to me and wrapped his long, thin arms around me: first one, then the other, then a squeeze, then a tighter squeeze. He leaned into me and I had to reach out and press my hand against the wall to keep from falling over. Finally, he pulled away first one arm, then the other. He looked up and smiled sweetly.”You know what?” he asked.”What?””I think God chose the perfect mom for me,” he said, eyes intent on mine.”Really?”He nodded.”How interesting,” I said, “because I think He chose the perfect son for me.”He stared at me, his chapped lips stretched taut across his face in a smile that wouldn’t stop. I held his loving gaze until he finally nodded slowly and skipped into the living room.
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Note: Affiliate links included.Works Cited: All images by Ann Kroeker. All rights reserved. Forni, P. M. The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2011. Print.