Eschew preoccupation

One of the benefits of doing marketing work for the Seattle Children's Hospital thrift store (also known as the Bainbridge Bargain Boutique) is that it provides an excuse to shop there with some frequency.

Last week, while capturing photos of some likely-looking Christmas presents for the store's website, I picked up two books by Henri Nouwen.  And this morning, in his  tiny little treatise, Making All Things New, I read the following:

"More enslaving than our occupations are our preoccupations.  To be pre-occupied means to fill our time and place long before we are there... Much, if not most, of our suffering is connected with these preoccupations.... Since we are always preparing for eventualities, we seldom fully trust the moment.  Our individual as well as communal lives are so deeply molded by our worries about tomorrow that today hardly can be experienced."

I hadn't thought of that interpretation of the word preoccupied before, but it really resonated -- and it's a perfect description of what most often derails my meditation practice.  I suspect it's also a phenomenon that contributes to the derailing of relationships as well.  After years of marriage, we have a way of becoming absorbed in our preoccupations, and tend to be less present and less attentive to our mates and children.  "Not right now, honey; maybe later," said with enough frequency, can leave a loved one feeling ignored and devalued...

The problem is -- as a friend said over coffee this morning -- things are always changing.  And if we're not paying attention, we might miss something beautiful, or even life-changing -- like this moment in yesterday's sunrise.  Not life changing, of course, but there might be something going on -- right here, and right now -- that could feed your soul way more than all that worrying...


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