Friday, September 11, 2009

Awareness Friday

Iris is someone who knows what she wants and goes for it despite convention and other external influences. One way to ensure that she not do something is to command her to do it.

It's totally wonderful that her hair has adopted the same approach to life that she has. This morning, as she hurriedly prepared to run out the door and head off to the playroom, I commented on the curious configuration of her hair. She fussed with her hair a bit, poking here and there and quickly achieved a reasonable compromise between what she wanted and what her hair wanted.

Iris talked about finding someone in Great Barrington who did a really nice job with her hair. She'd managed to cut it in a way that balanced conformity and free will. She then hearkened back to a time that we'd been in Paris and she decided on a whim to walk into this place and get her hair cut.

The Luxury of Focus and Awareness
She, my daughter Eila and I had spent the day exploring Paris. We were heading to Amsterdam for a wedding and Iris wanted to see if the Parisians would have better luck with her hair than others. Eila and I left her at the shop returning an hour later.

What transpired for Iris was an amazing experience. In addition to a high level of expertise, the man who cut her hair was completely focused on her. He really engaged her in what she wanted. He didn't distract himself with side conversations. He seemed to love what he was doing and pursued it passionately.

For Iris, the experience was simply wonderful -- luxurious. It was also the best hair cut she's ever had. It's as though the man really understood her hair and what it wanted to do, and then flawlessly executed a hair cut that reconciled the wants of Iris' hair with the wants of Iris.

It's Just Not the Same
Iris then commented that, although the woman in Great Barrington does a really great job, the experience and the results are simply not the same as her experience in Paris. For the woman in Great Barrington, cutting hair is something to do until she can do what she really wants to do. She doesn't invest her awareness in Iris as she cuts her hair, but instead talks with others. Rather than understanding Iris' hair and creating something wonderful, she relies on Iris to tell her what to do next. She has skill and expertise, but she's not invested in what she's doing or in Iris.

Where'd Everyone Go?
As we talked, I thought about how many times over the past few days I've seen people sliding through the day without any indication that they're aware of or paying attention to others.

I pulled into the gas station yesterday to find all the spots by the pumps occupied by abandoned cars. The people who owned them were all inside finding food and coffee at the mini-mart seemingly unaware of or not caring that a queue of cars had formed waiting to get gas.

As I sat on a bench eating lunch yesterday, a woman pulled into the parallel parking space in front of me, and then backed up a bit so that she occupied half of one space and half of another effectively blocking any other cars from parking.

Sitting in a restaurant last night with Iris and Kathy, I noticed how most of the wait staff seemed to never look me in the eye as they spoke with me, how they would run by never glancing to see if we would like anything else. We ended up flagging down people even though they were walking by us every few minutes.

I've had conversations where people would ask me a question, and as soon as I got a few words out of my mouth, would jump in with their own story and answer to their question.

It's as though lack of awareness and investment in others has reached epidemic (or more popularly pandemic) proportions.
Awareness Friday
One of the most amazing things I got taught is the ability to be totally present with someone in a manner that is not judgmental. Simply, this means deciding to focus your attention exclusively on someone in an attitude of love and acceptance without agenda other than being of service to them.

Of course, you can bring this level of awareness to any interaction with another person, from something that lasts just a few seconds to something that lasts for hours. If you're the recipient of such awareness, the experience can be luxurious; if you're the aware one, it will completely transform your experience as well.

So, how about joining me in celebrating Awareness Friday? Basically, decide that you're going to be actively aware (loving, accepting and without agenda) of each person that you meet. It can be the gal that you buy your paper from or your bus driver or people you work with or your partner or the guy filling your tank. It can be anyone.

I believe that, if you make every day Awareness Friday, you'll see an amazing transformation in your relationships. But for now, how about starting out today!

Happy Awareness Friday!

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