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SLICES OF LIFE: The joy of paying attention

Wasted time. We do it all the time. Fritter away a moment, an hour, an entire day.

Time is a valuable and limited commodity. Each of us has a limited amount to spend as we choose. And once time is gone, it's gone. There's no going back to five minutes ago to redo or re-experience. Not even for a second. Time is rigid that way. (Unless you are Marty McFly and in possession of a souped-up DeLorean.)

There's only right now. And in writing and reading that sentence, a moment was spent and we've since moved on to the next right now. And the next. And the next.

And so on.

It might seem depressing. Or not.

Realizing each moment is all we've got isn't the depressing part. It shouldn't be.

What is depressing is not realizing and living each day and each moment as though it is no different from the one before or the one after until they all blur together and nothing stands out.

Now there's a concept.

I'm not saying every moment of every day for all the rest of the days of our lives should be filled with lollipops, unicorns, infinite insight and all things bright and beautiful. That would be impossible.

But we do have moments that are better than others. And when we do, perhaps we should take note. Realize. Grasp. Savor. Be aware of the goodness surrounding us so we can remember and revisit that state of being at a later time.

Conversely, we can recognize, discern and be aware of negative moments for what they are: moments. Lingering over negativity (and let's face it — we all do) literally robs us of an inverse moment we could spend revisiting a joyous occurrence, or better yet, creating and living a new one to add to our arsenal.

Hurt and pain are real and it's oversimplifying to say we can just "get over it" in a moment or minutes or even days or years. But being cognizant of how we choose to feel and what we choose to focus on can aid in the journey to positivity.

Both joy and pain are basic states of being; they are undeniable parts of life. And while we all probably wish for a little more happiness and a little less angst, neither is a total crime against time.

Wasting it is.

And we do that, not when we are feeling, but when we are not.

The new plugged-in tendencies of our culture provide a potential sinkhole of wasted time. When we sit in a room with a group of people and no one is talking because they are all staring at their screens, moments are lost.

Our devices make us more productive and that's good because busy is the new black. Multitasking is a survival strategy. At least it feels that way at my house. But multitasking can be a huge time crime because when we are doing five things at once we are so focused on the whizzing whirr of action surrounding and consuming our to-do list that we fail to realize, grasp or discern the moments as they occur. Chatting with another person instead of texting. Giving someone a real-live smile instead of an emoji. Putting the to-do list away to chat with your spouse after work or your son after school. The cashier who tells you to, "Have a nice day," and seems to really mean it.

Moments in time. Choices we make.

Mundane? Sometimes yes. But if we don't find meaning in the mundane, then life becomes rather meaningless. And finding joy in the mundane everyday starts with paying attention to it.

Not paying attention — now there's where the waste comes in.

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