"Attention is the beginning of devotion." Mary Oliver
Good day beloveds...
I hope that you are warm and at ease wherever you are, and that if you are not, that your challenges are interesting and that you are meeting them with curiosity.
I am writing from the Pacific Northwest, where we have just experienced a winter storm the likes of which has not been seen in these parts in over a decade. It was a gorgeous event in many ways, carrying that particular joyful magic that snow brings in the first hours of its arrival: in the neighborhood that I currently know as home, families were out in the streets sledding, laughing, frolicking with true joy. People smiled at each other without masks on, talking easily and, for a moment, seeming to emerge from the cocoons of conditioned wariness and exhaustion that we have normalized in this staggeringly strange year of living with CV. It was a relief to my admittedly world-weary heart, and a joy to see (though I was bummed, I don't have a sled or companions to frolic with in such a way at this moment!).
It brings me close to a query that I wrestle with these days: what world is being woven around us under the pressure of these circumstances? What are we agreeing to with our submission to the regulations, mandates, and dictates from on high about this virus and how to behave in relation to it? Why are we trading life truly lived for imagined safety with no questions asked? Where are we making our decisions from? How are we building our understanding of this situation? Are we in our power, in our bodies, in our SELVES, in our response to this moment?
For me, I see us giving our power away in a terrifying and dangerous way because we are overwhelmed, confused, and exhausted. And for me the first remedy for this comes down to reclaiming our attention: truly understanding what that is and how to discipline that force for the greatest good for myself and the world that I am a part of.
Mary Oliver says "attention is the beginning of devotion." This line comes from an essay called "Upstream" in which she shares, in her poetic way, about how her attention always turned from society and into the living world, and how she gave herself to that at first, and then devoted herself to that entirely, and how that choice shaped her life, her art, and her Being. She is talking about turning our attention from societies endless grasping after elusive goals and into the immediacy of magic and wonder that is the essence of the living world of which we are a part, and how that choice is a path of salvation from the "lords of profit" and the soul-deadening madness and mediocrity of societies current manifestation.
Right now we are being torn apart at the seams by violent floods of information (among other things), much of it designed to disempower, terrify, subdue, confuse, and manipulate us. Our passionate, tactile, sensate lives are being herded more and more on-screen, with everything from education to holiday meals to sex being channeled through Zoom rooms, and it is not working out well for us.
How did we get here?
Part of how this all works is that we willingly give our attention to it: we willingly let ourselves be impacted, affected, and even violated, over and over again, by paying attention to information streams and entertainment streams that are negatively impactful to the coherence of our attention and, therefor, our power. The boundaries and defenses that we would naturally maintain for ourselves in physically dangerous situations are entirely abandoned when it comes to our consciousness. We let our consciousness be invaded and contaminated as a pastime, and we are so normalized to it at this point that we don't even realize what's happening.
Something else is possible here. Do you feel it? Have you felt it moving in you?
We are living through an absolutely pivotal moment in not only the story of our nation, not only the story of our world, but in the very story of what it means to be human and how the entire endeavor of modern humanity will unfold from this point forward. We can only participate as empowered creators in this revolutionary and transcendental moment if we reclaim our attention, redirect it to the healing and vitalizing of our Souls, and become the conduits of the essential forces of creation that we are able to be.
That is available to us, and it is available to us now! So we find ourselves at a choice point, the most important one we may ever face, and the choice is this: what world are we creating with how we live and participate in the unfolding of the moment right now?
My invitation and my request to you, in this moment, is that you reclaim your attention from the "lords of profit" and redirect it towards the knowing, fulfilling, and expressing of your own holy Soul.
You came here at this moment with a gift and a destiny written into your being, and that is the thing that matters: that is the thing that deserves your attention. When you turn your attention towards that, when you devote yourself to that in the most beautiful, integrated, and empowered way you can, then you become a channel for the flow of the divine to pour into the world. Not only that, you will feel more resourced, grounded, enlivened, powerful, and joyful in the process. It heals you, it heals all. It doesn't have to be a "big thing", just a true thing. "Big things" are noticeable because they are rare: the miracle of Life is woven of a gazillion smaller miracles that no one ever sees, but that Life could not be Life without. Just be you, all the way through and with total attention and devotion, the thing that only you can be, because you're the only you there will ever be and you are a part of the healing and liberation of this world and this moment.
It is a most extraordinary moment, and we are writing the story of it through our lives. Let us write a beautiful story together, a story that focuses on Life, Beauty, and Soul, and offers those spaces as a refuge for the whole world to flourish in.
Bowing deeply to the brilliance of your being...