RANDOM: Listen with your eyes

Out of the mouths of babes … The little girl imploring her mom to “Listen with your eyes” spoke words of wisdom we could all use. With so many demands on our senses, our attention is splintered. “Multitasking” is a fashionable way to describe the staggering number of tasks we face each day. Busyness has become a badge of honor. Reaction, not reflection, is all we have time or emotional energy for. The underlying message of modern life is that you are not living life to the fullest unless you engage every word, sound, idea, image clamoring for your attention—and get everything done on your to-do list while you’re at it. Daily life becomes a kind of white noise, muffling true attentiveness—which requires that we be quiet, pause, be open to wonder. As the little girl said, listen with your eyes.

A group of people were photographed recently, every one of them aiming their phone cameras to the sky where some noteworthy event was occurring. One woman alone was looking up without a camera, a look of calm enjoyment on her face. She didn’t have a photographic record of the event, but having given it her full attention, it will probably be more memorable to her than scrolling through pictures will be to the others.

Being present, in the moment, is living. So much else is a simulacrum. Which brings up another hazard of modern life—recognizing what is genuine and what is fake. Because when you’re not paying attention, while you’re distracted by all the trivia you’ve been programmed to think is important—while this is happening, someone is passing off shoddy workmanship, cutting corners, selling self-aggrandizement as honor. Passing off lies as truth.

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