I live in a city, Tucson, in its more-or-less central district. My home is across the street from a huge hospital set on a busy four-lane highway. It’s not far from an intersection.
I’m telling you this because I’d like to you feel the traffic noise, the helicopter roar, the general noise of such a place. Because it was exactly in this place that something particular occurred. It has fed me for many days.
It was early in the morning. The spring sun was warm. As I walked through an empty parking lot for the large medical complex, cars passed me often. Swish. Swoosh. And in the background, the avenue full of early commuters.
Then, somehow, through all the city clatter, I heard a bird. I stopped. Time seemed to stop. I barely noticed an occasional car going past a few feet from me. The bird, I soon realized, was a mockingbird with an astounding repertoire. Mockingbirds like to concertize from the tops of things, so I looked at the tops of the streetlamps, the tops of the palm trees, a few wires and roof peaks. I couldn’t see him. I never did find him with my eyes.
But hearing him, listening to him, was fresh-spring food for my soul. I found him with my ears. I found him with my heart. I don’t know how long I stood there. They sometimes sing for hours. When I was full and sated, I went on with the loop I like to walk.
Now you might say, it was only a bird song. Yes. A bird song plus a particular quality of attention. It was drawn from my heart by the song’s beauty and its unexpectedness. So engaged was my soul with the invisible singer that I no longer heard the traffic or noticed whether a car passed close. I forgot the sun on my skin and breeze in my hair. I was totally present to one thing only.
That is the whole point, isn’t it? The song caught my deepest, loving soul-attention. My soul was fed at least as much by my attention as by the singing. Which suggests that I could be nurtured a lot more, and be less dependent on stimulus (even beautiful stimulus) if I were qualitatively more attentive. Enchanting. I will practice. Will you join me?