October 3, 2019



On Tuesday, I was committed to being productive. I had my to-do list, my 23 Google Documents open and ready to go. I spent an hour or two working and thinking, toggling between seven things as I thought of them, opening a new notebook or making another list until I looked around me and noticed that the table was covered in paper.

I was thinking and making connections, but I was also scattered, so it didn’t feel like I was making real progress on any of the 5 things I was trying to work on. I took a deep breath.

I ended up taking a walk, with ‘Learning To Love’ by Thich Nhat Hanh in my back pocket. I sat in a field with the sun on my face, took several deep breaths, and began to read.

I read the small book, cover to cover, in about an hour. I paused on pages that felt particularly relevant to my relationships with friends, coworkers, family, loved ones. I looked out at the horizon and took a moment to sit with the lessons I want to integrate more mindfully into the way I move about the world.

Though so much of the work we do in the world does not have a clean beginning and an end, is not easy to tie up with a bow and finish, or close the last page and feel the satisfaction of completion, I am thinking about the value of focus.

What is the benefit of focusing on a single task or project? A single system or community? A single person or loaf of bread? Versus looking to the ways that they are connected, related, integrated, talking to each other?

I will continue to want to relate to the world and engage in a way that spans disciplines and traditional silos. But I am also reflecting on the ways that can leave me feeling pulled in a million directions, weary, scattered. And that focusing in - on one person, on one book, on one breath, is allowing me to connect with more intention to all the systems around me.

Martha Snow