I was out running past Flagpole Hill not too long ago, the giant American flag at the top of the hill, like so many flags I had seen in recent days, drooping at half mast in memory of more fallen innocents. It was a pace run, meaning that I was testing out my planned half-marathon pace over 8-9 miles in preparation for what will be my final race after 35 years, the 3M Austin Half Marathon on January 13.
Dipping into old lessons still being learned from my Zen practice, I focused hard on my breathing and my body, and the mile splits rolled by less than 3 seconds apart for 6 miles … then, with tiring and a loss of concentration, they gapped now slower, now faster. But for a little over six miles, I had run nearly even mile splits in a crosswind and over rolling hills — simply by paying closer attention than I normally might.
One person, concentrating a bit harder than usual for six miles worth of running. What if our entire nation, at every level of government and society, focused its full attention and energy for just six weeks — or even six days — on finding a solution to the deaths of innocent children by gunfire? And then, continuing that focus into other pressing issues? The potential power of an entire nation of people simply paying attention could spin the world’s tired old axis in a new and invigorating direction.
The best thing you or I can do in 2013? Pay attention!