Yesterday I read NY Times op-ed columnist David Brook’s piece titled, Longing for an Internet Cleanse. In it he bemoans the constant barrage of news and negativity thrown at us everyday and talks about how slowing down and really taking the time to appreciate something, really being still and not so much quieting the mind but concentrating on something of timeless beauty, can have lasting positive effects.
He talks of a friend who is a painter who suggests David sit in front of one of his paintings for an eternal 10 to 12 minutes. The results are more than gratifying. But think of the last time you spent even 10 minutes just looking at something. Or listening. Without picking up your phone, without talking or listening to someone else. Sure I try to take in art, listen to music, walk around in nature as often as I can, but I can’t remember the last time I actually stood still anywhere for 15 minutes (unless it’s in traffic).
This weekend, I am going to begin to try to make a habit of spending 15 minutes one day being still, to take in all the nuances of whatever it is I want to quietly contemplate. (Brooks talks about part of the reason why the Sabbath and Sundays are sacred in religion, is that it is the day you are supposed to stop, rest and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation).
Hopefully this weekend it will be on the first hike of the season. And this time when I reach the peak or overlook I am going make whomever I have dragged along with me sit for 15 minutes and just take in the view. Maybe next time it will be my favorite Jackson Pollack at The Met. Or I will listen to some Miles Davis while lying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing else (ok, maybe sipping an Old-Fashioned). I do think you should pick something worthy of your time.
In the beginning I think getting to 15 minutes will be a challenge. It’s like those first two days of a beach vacation where your mind is racing, or you’re running around doing this or that, and then, usually by the third day (at least for me), I settle into a beach chair, stare at the ocean and seriously zone out. I don’t read, I don’t listen to music, I just look out at the horizon and do nothing. For me, it is the most euphoric yet qualm feeling. Starting today, I am giving myself permission to blissfully zone out at least once a week. You?