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Diligent Awareness (Life as a Poem)

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. In this state of god-like awareness one sings; in this realm the world exists as poem.”
― Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart

“Imagine that you’re unwell and in a foul mood, and they’re taking you through some lovely countryside. The landscape is beautiful but you’re not in the mood to see anything. A few days later you pass the same place and you say, “Good heavens, where was I that I didn’t notice all of this?” Everything becomes beautiful when you change.” — Anthony De Mello, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality

It’s easy to say we should live with awareness, but harder in practice. This business of living demands attention, or rather, distracts our attention from much of the things we’d be focused on if we weren’t so damned busy with that other thing. We forget, sometimes, that life is merely what we pay attention to and everything becomes beautiful when we change. Most of us won’t change or become fully aware, but isn’t it pretty to think so?

Most don’t want to change, they want to live with what they have, while wishing for more, and do it again tomorrow. When someone does we wonder at their boldness, but don’t connect the dots to doing it ourselves. If we are what we repeatedly do (Aristotle), then doing something completely different strikes at our very identity. No wonder so many refuse to cross that line in the sand.

“How many people do you know who are obsessed with their work, who are type A or have stress related diseases and who can’t slow down? They can’t slow down because they use their routine to distract themselves, to reduce life to only its practical considerations. And they do this to avoid recalling how uncertain they are about why they live.” ― James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

The thing is, awareness isn’t about turning our lives upside down, it’s being fully present in the moment. Being open to everything that surrounds us, not just those practical considerations. We aren’t quitting our jobs and living like a hermit in a hot tent when we’re aware, we’re simply inviting more of the universe into our present moment. It seems if we want a more fulfilling life then we ought to fill more of our life with beautiful things.

I was once a closed young man who thought of poetry as frivolous. Something was missing within me that took years to fill. When you close yourself up the world simply cannot find its way in to fill you. Over time my awareness pendulum has swung wide open. Not coincidently, I write more, listen more, seek more and linger more with the world. When we realize the world exists as a poem, we’re more inclined to dance with its verse.

“Butterflies don’t write books, neither do lilies or violets. Which doesn’t mean they don’t know, in their own way, what they are. That they don’t know they are alive—that they don’t feel, that action upon which all consciousness sits, lightly or heavily.” — Mary Oliver, Upstream

We expand into the world we create for ourselves through diligent awareness. Knowing what we are, and who we are, is the job of a lifetime. When we open ourselves to everything, we discover more, and we live a bigger life.

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