Curiosity Journal: February 29, 2012

Each Wednesday I’ve been recording a Curiosity Journal to recap the previous week using these tag words: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing.

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Reading

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.

Playing

I personally hate surprises, but I love surprising others who love to be surprised.See “Learning” (below) for details.

Learning

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.

Reacting

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.

Writing

I’m enjoying my work editing the “I Do” series at The High Calling. Today’s post by Seth Haines—the final in the series—is a call to preserve the truth about our marriages.

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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.

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  • Comments

    1. On partial attention and not remembering–our local campus minister told me he was hosting a 90s dance party for students. Then he started talking about all the different ways one could choose to dress to reflect the fashion of the 90s. I looked at him with a blank stare, realizing I had no memory of 90s fashions. Then I remembered–I had young children during the 90s. I was lucky to have gotten dressed, never mind paying attention to whether or not what I was wearing was fashionable. Days I got to shower were a bonus! The point is–we’re always paying attention to some things, while the others get past us.

      (Can I come to your birthday party?)

      • annkroeker says:

        Nancy, it would be an honor to have you at my party! (Just don’t surprise me…)

        And the ’90s? Same with me. I was happy to be presentable at all.

    2. At 75 years old, it’s a wonder the nurse didn’t have to perform her own CPR! My kids love to sneak up on me because I freak!

      And that story about your boy. I had to wipe a tear.

      • annkroeker says:

        That nurse, she LOVES surprises! One of her daughters is a nurse, though, and another is a Physician Assistant, so she was covered, medically speaking. :)

        I love picturing you jumping out of your skin from fright, Sandra!

        And my boy? I just hugged him good night. He is a keeper.

    3. Okay, that book you’re reading? We should all read it, every last one of us continuously partially (in)attentive people. Thanks for the recommendation!

      And I love that story about your son. Moments like that make all the other moments worth it, yes?

      • annkroeker says:

        I hope you have time to think today, Kimberlee.

        I got more hugs today from him today, and I needed them. So I totally agree–makes the other moments worth it.

    4. this was an especially lovely collection of vignettes this week, Ann. thank you.

    5. I like these curiosity journals, Ann. I like catching up on your world, in snippets I can digest. Maybe I should try something similar…

      • annkroeker says:

        I’m so glad–it’s just a glimpse, these snippets, but that’s all I have time to compose these days.

    6. Ann – I loved the “I Do” series on The High Calling so much. Even as a single person, this meant a lot to me. Thanks for all your work.

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