Today I will set my the alarm on my watch to go off every hour, and wherever I am and whatever I am doing I stop and pay attention after which I will write some notes about each experience. I will enter my findings here tonight.
9:00 am: I stand in the office. The sunlight comes in through two windows one behind me and one to my right. My hand is moving away from the book I just put down. Rickie, the afternoon teacher, talks fast and loud. She swivels around in her large office chair to face me. the words are not registering. I see the slight curved wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. The hum of computers is there underneath her voice. The words come fast, so fast they can’t mean anything.
10:00 am: One metal prong, curved as it comes up from the file, reflects itself in the straight tilted end. My finger and thumb closed together nearby. Rickie’s voice draws me out of my momentary pause with words about transferring a child.
11:00 am: I am sitting forward in my chair, tilted forward, leaning over a yellow file folder, black lines hard on the yellow. Janet, the center manager, behind me talking in loud, dry, tones like rough rocks moving together. The whispering hum of computers still underneath it all.
12 Noon: I am writing on a home visit form. I sit leaning over my desk. Richard from the apartment rental office walks from the bathroom our through the classroom. He clears his throat with an echoing cough. His footsteps recede out through the narrow hallway to his office.
1:00 pm: I sit at a tan dining table. Across from me is a girl, six years old, creamy coffee face with long dark lashes, tight black curls, eyes concentrating on painting. Her face pops up blue eyes and a smile. At my right a woman tells me of the complex relationship she has with the boys father. Two boys move about the edge of the table, one younger, the other older. She uses words carefully and spells when necessary to protect her children’s feelings about their father.
2:00: Both of my hands lightly grip the black steering wheel. Through the windshield I see a narrow two lane road rising in front. Trees form a solid wall of shifting green in many shades, leaves glittering as the breeze moves them. Dark green leaves against the bright yellow of a house. In the distance a hillside, a patchwork forest against the cloud washed blue sky.
3:00 pm: I am counting pieces of plum colored printer paper as I stand in the office. The sound of a drill comes from under my desk, Kevin is on his back head and shoulders hidden by the desk. His legs lay apart flat on the floor. Janet reads an Email about impending change.
4:00 pm: I sit on a couch paperwork on a coffee table. A man looks from me over to his 3 year old son and says something in Punjabi. The boy nods his head and replies in clear singing tones also in Punjabi.
“He says that he wants to go to school now,” the man says. “He is ready.”
The boy smiles at me. I smile back.
5:00 pm: The light is green, I steer the car through the intersection, and up the hill.
“What was that beep?” asks my son.
“It was just my watch.”
6:00 pm: I am walking toward a parking lot with only a few cars here and there. My wife, who walks next to me, tells me some ideas she has about college and her career. Across the parking lot, enormous trees, a spreading, chaotic oak, symmetrical pines, narrow cottonwoods are scattered about an undulating field of short cut brown tinged grass.
7:00 pm: I sit outside at a glass table on a second story deck. A bowl of minestrone steams . It is too hot to eat. I take a bite of jicama, sweet, crisp, and wet. My wife talks about her work and change.
8:00 am: The headlights shine on the bushes and telephone pole as I steer the car around the corner and up to our house in the waning light. A pop song sings on the radio. My daughter sings along.
Some things I noticed while doing this and afterwards:
- It is hard to stay focused on words when you are trying to be present.
- I am in my car a lot these days.
- I spend a lot of time leaning over my desk in an office surrounded by computers.
- By creating a signal, I created sacred moments during a normal day.
- Every moment is full of meaning if you pay attention.
- I retain a clear memory of each moment I paid attention to.
- Days are full of lost moments.
- I might try it again tomorrow.
- I was not able to write immediately after each experience, but I found that I had no trouble putting myself in the moments from memory after paying attention to the moment when it happened. I wrote each one down as soon after it happened as I could.
- For the most part I was able to not pay attention to my watch though it was irritating me as I am not used to wearing one.