Lately I’ve been concerned with attention. 

Attention became part of “am I doing it right” worry playlist when I read this incredible and thoughtful piece by Jonathan Harris and it’s lingered on my mind more often since I moved to DC. This evening, after a spiritually-enriched yoga session, I decided to read it again.

It was my intention to then write a post about attention and my recent efforts to treat mine with value. When I watch TV, I try to make it new episodes of shows I really enjoy instead of mindless reruns and I’ve given up on books that I felt were whiney and poorly written. I’ve tried, not to much avail, to spend less time on social media or obsessively checking my phone and have implemented rules for when it is on (I usually shut it off in the mornings at work) and use the Do Not Disturb feature beyond 10 p.m. Much more difficult, I want to be stingy with my mental and social attention, whom do I spend time with or think about. In Lesotho I devoted personal growth to several themes – expectations, focus, presence – so I guess attention is my latest theme, likely lasting until I find another theme. My greatest gift to my students and host family was my attention and somehow that lesson evaporated when I returned home and now I want to relearn it and let it guide me through all of my daily actions.

But I after I reread Harris’ piece attention wasn’t my main attraction but being unstuck.

After my admittance of struggle, I let a huge sigh of relief. Not only did many PCV friends reach out to tell me that they too feel or felt that way, but I felt like my secret was now public and it was OK for me to be sad. And for awhile I wasn’t because there was a source to identify but the transition is still ongoing so are those difficult emotions. This morning that fog was back and I felt suffocated in disappointment. 

Maybe I am stuck but transitions are not neat with clean cut start and stop dates. They also take work, patience, forgiveness and love. 

Harris points to multiple times in his life he was stuck but, eventually, and almost always, he became unstuck. Sometimes it took longer than at others points but he hit another high. Life is highs and lows, though, and we can probably expect that that pattern will never change. 

I’ll be unstuck someday and even now, when I am still processing all that has happened in the last four months, life is incredibly kind and loving to me. But in order for me to feel that joy, which I still do in great bursts at times, I need to spend my attention wisely. It’s in the writing I do, the poses my body forms over the yoga mat, the foods I eat, the people I chose to care about and the prayers I say. My attention is my life and if I want to propel forward it should be my greatest gift. 


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