Monday, November 06, 2006

Paying Attention

I hurt myself a few times in the last couple of months. I fell riding a horse--actually a pony--for the first time in September. I got lucky and didn't do any lasting damage, just a sore shoulder for a couple of days. What was I thinking about? What was distracting me?

I burned my hand making tea. I poured boiling water all over the back of my left hand. I held back tears as I drove my daughter to her dance class soon after the incident. For three weeks I covered it with my other hand when I stood talking to someone. It turned dark brown and peeled. Underneath the raw, red skin looked unready for exposure.

I fell riding again on Friday. This time I did get hurt. My neck and shoulder are sore and I have appointments set up with my physical therapist, massage therapist, and a new chiropractor that a friend strongly recommends. This is probably overkill, but since I've been feeling so great physically, maybe better than ever, I can't accept this setback easily.

One thing I know from riding is that your eye is everything. Where you're looking and what you're thinking about is critical to staying in the saddle. It's not easy to be a daydreamer and ride horses. Until now, I've been lucky, but it looks like I've tempted fate and my daydreaming is beginning to cost me.

Clarity and focus are things that I've learned about in yoga and meditation. I can try to apply some of those skills to the rest of my life. I think I better, before I really get hurt. My new mantra should be "focus on what you are doing now." That would keep me out of a lot of trouble, because so much of what spins me is not paying attention to what I'm doing in the moment. I assume many writers have the habit of living in their heads. It's how we get a lot of our work done, and since we bring our heads with us wherever we go, we often forget that we're doing something other than work and get lost somewhere in between the two activities.

I can't possibly stop thinking, except when I'm sitting at my computer, but I do need to be more aware of how I allocate time for this work and time for the rest of my life. I need to notice if I'm paying attention when I'm cooking, or spending time with my kids, or driving, so that I don't get hurt anymore. But also so that I can live more fully. If I leave this thinking process on all of the time, I think it gets diluted and less effective. It becomes something in the background, too familiar and less engaging. And the activities that I fill my life with become nothing more than unnoticed landmarks whizzed by at 75 mps.


Anonymous said...

Kim - it sounds to me like you are ready to ski in the trees with me !!!

keep on livin' Kimmy !

love, jude

Kim Barke said...

Judy--you're right I do need to ski the trees. Smuggs is on this year. Let's talk about the big "T."

Love you,