A teacher once told me the story of two people walking at dawn one morning, the rising sun at their backs. One paused and turned to look at the beautiful sunrise, awed by its beauty. Wanting to share it, he tapped the shoulder of his friend, who turned to look and was equally awed.
Stop and consider this story for a minute to contemplate its meaning or meanings. One comes from recognizing the important role we have to help those in our lives be aware of meaningful things.
Related to that, however, is the truth that try as we might we can never MAKE another person be aware of something. We may WANT to share things with others, but they still have to turn, literally and/or metaphorically, to see them.
THEY have to do the physical and mental work.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found what has become an even bigger lesson for me from this story. It’s that we all are being tapped on our shoulders all the time. Every second of every day we are offered opportunities to see meaningful things.
Many of us wonder who or what does what I’m calling this shoulder-tapping. Call it Source, or Light, or Intelligence, or God, or some other name. For my purposes, though, putting a name to what taps us is not the most important thing.
What’s important is to recognize that we are being tapped, the practice of focusing our attention. In other words, I have the responsibility to do the physical and mental work, to turn and look so to speak.
As I gain experience doing this, I learn there is also discipline involved in the practice. Undisciplined, my attention is drawn to all sorts of things — negative news stories, certain uses of social media, drama from the sports world — which distract me from what is actually meaningful.
I sometimes even fool myself into believing the distracting things are important.
Disciplined, I learn to see the difference between the distracting and the divine, between the pointless and the profound. In time, I find that I’ve come to internally filter out the things that distract me, which allows me to gently focus on the divine and the profound.
Like a sunrise.