This morning I was sitting by my sister’s pool, sipping hot chocolate, when my attention delved so deeply into thoughts and images of an event of the recent past that I did not immediately notice the robin land in the shady grass and begin to chirp. When her chirping got close enough and loud enough, the spell was broken, the dream ended, and my attention went fully on her for a moment.
Upon noticing that I had been lost in thought, I do what I always do, which is to come to my senses; to feel into the body and breath, feel the heat of the sun, my seat on the steps, hear the call of the bird, notice the taste of the hot chocolate; to come back to present awareness.
Simply aware here and now, I noticed the bird covering the ground, cold and damp from yesterday’s rain. She would move, chirp, stop, and turn her head sideways as if to look at or listen to the ground, and repeat. Staring and stock still, suddenly, she dived forward and pulled a long worm through the ground.
I reflected, yet again, how all of my senses had been in essence, shut down; how I had not seen her land, nor heard her first chirps. So much is missed when we are not present, not only opportunities, but also the vast richness of life itself. Beyond that, absorbed in and believing unreal, fleeting thoughts, we can mistake them for truth and completely miss reality.
In contrast to my experience, she must have been out of her mind–and fully in the now. How could she sing her call, and feel her feet, and feel the ground, and look and listen for the subtle worm, if all her attention was following thoughts in her noisy head? She certainly would not be able to hear, see, notice or catch the worm, nor feed her babies.
The realization came: It is not the early bird that catches the worm–it is the awake bird.