Ever hear of Joseph Campbell? The guy who dedicated his whole life to the themes and archetypes of story and myth across cultures? The one who laid out the common pattern of the Hero’s Journey in culture? He’s one of MY heroes. Campbell saw the greatest human transgression as “the sin of inadvertence, of not being alert, not quite awake.”
Of going through life hearing, but not actually listening.
Seeing, but not really noticing.
It’s typing on the computer while the kids are talking about something that happened at school.
Going outside without looking at the sky.
Driving to work and realizing you have no idea how you actually got there.
Looking down at dinner and seeing, surprisingly, your plate is now empty.
Going a whole summer without feeling bare feet on grass.
I’d like to think that I spend my time conscious, truly awake, truly thinking about everything around me. But to tell you the truth? All of that paying attention can be exhausting.
That’s actually why, for all you lovers of irony out there, I use awake-ness as a strategy for getting to sleep.
Try it sometime.
Lay in bed with your eyes closed. Allow your ears to do all the work. Pay attention to the sounds. ALL the sounds your ears can possibly pick up:
The air conditioning
The wind blowing
The dog’s breathing
The hum of the earth
Listen to it.
All of it.
Bring it all in at the same time.
Keep it all there.
Your mind will fight you, will try to let some of it go.
Hold on to it, as much as you can, as long as you can.
At some point, you will have no choice
But to let go.