Reporting in on my three words for the year

We’re halfway into 2012 and my blog-stated intention to make this the year of “be,” “still,” and “know” continues to elude me. If anything, my schedule is more hectic now than when, back in January, I determined to slow my life down.

A lot of days — too many, if truth be told — it feels as though I’m “drowning in a twittering bog of information.” The phrase is borrowed from a beautiful essay by author, poet, and naturalist Diane Ackerman that was featured on the Opinion page of the New York Times.

If, like me, you find yourself living, but not really experiencing life “up close, right here, right now, in all its messy, majestic, riotous detail,” I commend Ms. Ackerman’s words to you. Here’s some of what she has to say about the importance of learning to savor each moment.

I wish schools would teach the value of cultivating presence. As people complain more and more these days, attention spans are growing shorter, and we’ve begun living in attention blinks. More social than ever before, we’re spending less time alone with our thoughts, and even less relating to other animals and nature. Too often we’re missing in action, brain busy, working or playing indoors, while completely unaware of the world around us.

One solution is to spend a few minutes every day just paying close attention to some facet of nature. A bonus is that the process will be refreshing. When a sense of presence steals up the bones, one enters a mental state where needling worries soften, careers slow their cantering, and the imaginary line between us and the rest of nature dissolves. Then for whole moments one may see nothing but the flaky trunk of a paper-birch tree with its papyrus-like bark. Or, indoors, watch how a vase full of tulips, whose genes have traveled eons and silk roads, arch their spumoni-colored ruffles and nod gently by an open window.

On the periodic table of the heart, somewhere between wonderon and unattainium, lies presence, which one doesn’t so much take as engage in, like a romance, and without which one can live just fine, but not thrive.

Just the reminder I needed at mid-year to commit again to “be,” “still,” and “know.” Fortunately, I’ve got six months yet to make good on my intention.

If you have a confession (or brag) about your three words and progress to-date, feel free to post it in the comment box below. You’ve got a sympathetic (or envious) friend in me.


  1. My three words were discover, reflect and act.

    Discover = learning Irish, meeting my new and first granddaughter, going deeper in social media possibilities, writing an executive leadership course for online delivery (something else that is new for me).

    Reflect = Reading my way through a selection of biographies of leaders ((famous and infamous). Next up Theodore Roosevelt. Learning to use the Book of Common Prayer as a source for my own reading of scripture and prayer.

    Act = Traveled to Ireland. Joined a Wednesday morning worship and prayer group. Asserting myself more and in healthier ways. Open to new adventures.

    On the whole my intentions are taking hold in spite of forgetfulness and failure. Your idea has been a good exercise!

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