Episode 140 We Ask Questions – Waq #8

November 22, 2023

Good morning from Greenwich, Connecticut. Today is Wednesday and on Wednesdays we ask questions. Today’s question is inspired by something I’m doing with the poet philosopher David Whyte, whom I reference frequently. He does a series called ‘Three Sundays in June, Three Sundays in March, Three Sundays in November, in this case. The series that started yesterday is called ‘One Clear Path’ and in this first Sunday lecture he was explaining that when he’s talking about one clear path he’s not talking about narrowing and deepening focus . He talks about one clear path as a practice of being able to reengage more and more in all circumstances with what is essential and important to us.

In fact the subtitle of One Clear Path is ‘Freeing Our Lives from the Distracted Mind’. He talks about beckoning as in when we’re being drawn or called to do something, but at a certain point we don’t trust ourselves. Actually, he talks about two things. On the one hand it can feel like our circumstances are simply too difficult to do what we really want. But sometimes it’s that we don’t trust ourselves. We have this sense that we’re going to simply go back and drop into our old habits,  and we’re going to be with our normal comforting distractions.

Anyway, at one point in the lecture, he started talking about making a new morning out of the new year. I really liked that thinking. In his work he talks a lot about the power of the morning and starting fresh every day. He talks about the liminality, and staying in bed and allowing yourself to be in that space between two worlds when you’re waking up in the morning. So, I like this idea of making a new morning out of the new year.

He went on to say it’s possible to declare a space and to reinvent yourself , no matter our difficulties, no matter our habits, and no matter the way we fall into distraction. I love that language falling into distraction. So that’s what inspired today’s question.  Here’s the question. How am I going to decide what to pay attention to?

I think pondering it. This question can give us clarity about where we want to focus because there are so many distractions and there’s so much information that’s coming at us. It can feel like we can’t get away, and I think the way to bring the locus of control back is to think about the question: how am I going to decide what to pay attention to?

As it relates to distractions, recent studies have shown definitively that there really is no such thing as multitasking. We’re simply switching attention rapidly from one thing to another and it’s a central source of stress. I’m reading something that says in the last 20 years our attention span has gone from an average of two and a half minutes to 47 seconds. So yeah, it’s clearly more important than ever to decide what we’re going to pay attention to, right?

I’ll end today with a little quote about this series, One Clear Path. It says it is important to remember that actually all artistic and contemplative paths have always occurred amidst the difficulty, chaos, untoward occurrences, and often hilarious humiliations of an average human life.

I’m going to end there and wish those of you celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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