The life of a writer seems almost extravagant at times. I don’t mean that I wake up when I feel like it, drive around in search of inspiration to write, or spend hours sitting outside an expensive coffee shop sipping on a mocha latte and writing of the romance and beauty of life. I don’t have that luxury and I doubt many writers do. Few writers can afford to give up their “day job” so to speak.
I’m referring to a different kind of extravagance … the way we place our attention on something so entirely. Who else has the freedom to stop in the midst of a day or a meal or a meeting, to look around and experience the moment in full?
Living and looking at the world from the eyes of a writer gives you a sort of freedom to pause in the middle of something crazy or hectic or wonderful and see it from new eyes. To stop and take a step back and turn it so you can focus on it from different angles, gazing and refocusing until you’re sure you have grasped its essence and beauty before setting it down and moving on.
I think it makes a few things possible that would not otherwise be. Like seeing beauty in sorrow, or humor in tragedy. Because it is there. So few things in this world are all bad (like ketchup or raisins, and even those things others will swear by).
Looking at life from the eyes of a writer allows you to be fully present. I recall first hearing the concept of being “fully present” while attending a neonatal resuscitation class with my mom. The teacher urged us student-midwives and doulas to be fully centered and present, that we owed it to the women in labor and that we owed it to ourselves as well. I had previously thought that focusing on being “present” and centering one’s self was a little strange, like summoning the powers of the universe in transcendentalism or something. It was actually different from what I had originally thought. Being present is allowing yourself to be fully in the moment, to see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the scents and just feel it all – the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.
Who knows but that there isn’t something wonderful waiting to be born in that moment? Something that, if we were looking in another direction, focusing on something else, or allowing ourselves to be distracted … we would miss entirely and one day mourn the loss. I know there have been many times I have missed something important just because I was going too fast. Modern life, even with all its conveniences, pushes us to go faster, to accomplish more, to finish earlier … and at the end we wonder where the time has gone.
Stopping. Listening. Breathing. Experiencing. Looking. Thinking. Praying. Writing. It all takes time. But it’s time well spent. Time we won’t regret or wonder what was missed. Time that equals not the extravagant life, but the abundant life. A life that is blessed.