A tourist in your own town

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“Writers write about things that other people don’t pay much attention to. For instance, our tongues, elbows, water coming out of a water faucet, the kind of garbage trucks New York City has, the color purple of a faded sign in a small town … A writer’s job is to make the ordinary come alive, to awaken ourselves to the specialness of simply being.” Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones

I think that what is true for writers is true for other creative people. I think it can be true for anyone who practises mindfulness. We can do this by actually paying attention, instead of rushing ferociously and diagonally through the days and months and years. What creative people know is that time stands still when they are fully absorbed in their work. Hours can pass before they look up at the clock. They notice that it’s beginning to get dark.

Actually taking time to pay attention to what we do is quite difficult. We are used to trying to cram too many things into a day. We fool ourselves that we can multi-task, when actually, we just do things quickly and/or badly and feel overwhelmed.

Documenting our unique view of the world is a way to practise mindfulness. Seeing the familiar through fresh eyes is a skill to be developed. What you see might be expressed in writing, or a drawing or collage, a sculpture or a photograph. It might, if we are lucky, be expressed in our work. It doesn’t really matter what the medium is. As long as it gets ‘said’.

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