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Pay Attention to Everything


(photo by KSL News)

I love the Zen phrase — “Everything is connected. Everything changes. Pay attention.” It guides me in my personal life. It guides me in work with groups. It guides me when I need to drive in a snow storm, which is what happened last night upon my return to Salt Lake City’s International Airport.

Truth be told, I kind of like the feeling of needing to pay attention to the whole system of things. I like it that it matters. And, truth be told, I kind of like the feeling of activating my Canada driving skills to carry me from the airport to my home, a 45 mile drive.

Fast forward — made it last night. All good. And to be clear, if I felt it needed, I would have stayed with a friend in Salt Lake City to wait out the storm until day light. I also feel that I should knock on wood — to continue to invoke providence and good luck in the circumstances in which there is no such thing as “control.”

Pay attention to everything — here’s a bit of what that looked like for me last night.

  • Wear my boots; not my shoes (which I’d packed with me knowing this storm was a likelihood).
  • Wear my coat; have my gloves and hat ready (vulnerability is great, but being without gloves is just stupid).
  • Check the weather app for forecasts at the time I land; yikes, it was 80-90% chance of snow (and visibility was very low, looking out my airplane window).
  • Notice how long it would have been snowing; did it just start or had it been going on for hours (new circumstance or old pattern).
  • In riding the “Economy Lot Shuttle” to get to my car, ask the driver who I am standing next to, what he knows about the roads (he was 60s ish man originally from Idaho, and spoke simply — “When you have trouble breathing, it’s cold. Same thing when it’s hot.” That wasn’t super helpful, but it was endearing. The snow was falling heavily as he drove. The cars in the parking lot had 4-5 inches of snow on them.
  • Check the current temperature. It is above or below freezing? It will make a difference on whether ice is forming on the roads or if we are just dealing with the snow.

Now I’m in my car. The wind is blowing slightly. Flakes of snow are large and remind me of Star Trek movies and what the stars look like moving at warp speed. It’s actually really beautiful, as is the quiet that only comes with snow.

Keep paying attention.

  • There remains slush on the road. That’s a good sign, as long as it doesn’t get to freezing soon.
  • Keep ample distance from others for extra room to do everything slowly. No sudden stops. No frivolous lane changes. When I say ample, I mean like 10-20 car lengths.
  • Watch others’ brake lights. If they brake, tap my own to learn from what I can’t see but what they may be seeing ahead of me.
  • Feel the road. Are my tires making good contact. (I do have newish winter tires for these purposes).
  • Watch extra for the highest elevation, “Point of the Mountain” where there is most often more snow.
  • Watch for vehicles pulled off to the side (do they need help, and, those might be extra tricky spots).
  • Listen to the radio report on road conditions; then turn it off so that I can hear the road more carefully.

And a few more things.

Pay attention — everything is connected.

I made it last night. Grateful. It was a trip of 20-40 miles per hour rather than 70-75.

Judy Brown wrote a poem that I often use, called “Fire,” in which she includes an invitation to learn about groups the way we learn about tending fires.

“When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.”

I feel something similar about learning about groups (and self) from what we learn about paying attention, exquisitely, to snowy road conditions.

When we are able to pay attention
to each other and to groups
in the same way
we have learned
to connect everything
when driving in a snow storm,
then we can come to see how
it is connection, and more nuanced connection,
that make wholeness possible.

Pay attention to everything. I hope to continue to learn to both give myself to this connected reality, and to surrender to it, skillfully, to the much greater unseen that requires us to be in connection, and attention, and change.

 

 

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