When I'm not mindful of what I'm doing I find myself focusing my attention far away from myself, reading lots of random news articles and generally obsessing over how the world is failing at doing a million things. That's not too hard to do, there are millions of articles out there to read, millions of failures both small and large to write said articles about, and a probably too small and not well paid enough group of people who are getting paid to write about things for good reasons- they're pretty good writers and they have something to say.
But there I am, taking in information, taking in information, taking in information, without any real reason for doing so. It's just habitual. The problem there is, of course, the lack of mindfulness, but if I could solve that one...
So I've tried to branch out this year, especially with this being my last four months on Earth where I'm not fully and completely responsible for another human being. I've picked up a couple of things to do and started to look around at the people around me much more than the world around me.
I've baked bread for the first time in my life.That's really the product of my hands, right there <-------. It seems like a small thing, and that's why it was important to me. Why had I gone my whole life without having done such a simple thing for myself? Flour, yeast, salt, butter, badda bam badda boom, bread. It's an interesting process, with the living yeast doing its own thing, a bit of ancient bio-engineering thrust into the modern world. There's a rhythm to it which doesn't fit in with modern times, mixing, kneading, waiting, punching, manipulating, waiting, baking, waiting, and finally the payoff. Well, maybe the punching and manipulating fit in, but not the waiting. That sort of delayed gratification breaks us out of our normal modes of being, and forces us to deal with some of the same realities as gardening- that nature doesn't follow our timetable.
I've also started coloring. Funny huh? I've taken a lot of guff from various people for it, but I've really liked it. I bought some great Prismacolor colored pencils on sale from Amazon, some even greater coloring books, and I've just been chilling out and coloring. Sometimes, when there's a simpler picture I just break out the old school Crayola crayons and go from there. If you're looking for awesome coloring books for adults, not adult coloring books though, check out Dover. First up on the block will be Life in Ancient Japan for me, then maybe Beowulf, and then, when I'm much better, Ancient Mexican Designs.It's pretty calming, and maybe it's a first step towards learning to do something artistic.
As for the people around me, I've been taking the time to try to notice things in people that I've probably always overlooked. I have a sister who's attempting to go vegan, a friend who has been writing beautiful short pieces of meditations on the internet, a wife dealing with all the joys and not-so-joys of pregnancy, and a group of coworkers and students who each bring something different to the table each day.
So, a 2012 where I try to focus my attention on the people around me more so than on the toings and froings of the world at large. Let's see how it works!