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The place between the life on auto-pilot and a helpful routine

Life is so fast-paced. And we experience so much more than we can pay attention to most days. It is also in human nature to find patterns and preserve energy that the careful thinking consumes, by learning routines and clever, quick, optimal ways of doing things that happen frequently or regularly in our lives. This is brilliant and useful. In fact, it is not completely unique to humans - my dog loves a routine too, and I find it adorable when he heads towards the kitchen for breakfast straight after his morning walk, or runs up the stairs to go to bed when we come back from his evening walk. It makes sense to do this, because it is how the brain works.

Have you ever tried to imagine what would it be like to wake up one morning and have a total memory loss? Not the one where you don't know your name and don't recognise your closest people but you can tie your shoe-laces and fry some eggs no problem. But the one that erases everything you know: you look outside and you don't know what trees are, what the sky is; you don't recoginse the sound of birds or cars; you don't even know what you are. Scary, right? But because we know what trees and bird song are, we don't stop each time to notice them - or more likely: we very rarely do. There must be a place in between.

Let's assume that I am happy to always remember how to tie my shoe-laces and make my favourite breakfast without too much thought - even though there's a chance that I felt some pride when I first learned how to do both. But what about not noticing that leaves are falling in autumn and missing this essential part of all life just because I expected it to happen so it doesn't require my reaction? How can I ever hope to cope with the death of a loved one if I don't allow this natural cycle of nature to be a part of my awareness? This is so basic and I mean: so fundamental.

Allowing the fast pace of modern life to dictate where we use our attention and what we learn to ignore, is the ultimate surrender of our conscious selves, and therefore the idea of having any free will. We will feel tired and enslaved by "the man" because we just can't cope with demands on our attention. But we have the power to shift our attention to anything we choose.

Imagine a woman sitting on a bench by the river. Her husband just died very suddenly. She feels the pain of his loss and yet she looks at a swan floating past, and sees his beauty. She smiles and cries. This is life. It is beautiful and hard. Nothing will ever replace her husband in her life. Nothing will ever compare to the beauty of a swan.

*I just found this in the "drafts" section of my blog. I am not sure if I thought it was finished. I don't know how long it's been in there. I hope now is the right time for it to reach you as it is.

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