My phone dings with another text message, I hear a few neighbors conversing in the street and my daughter is rollerblading across the wood floor. I attempt to jot a few words on the page, but nothing happens. Instead, I stare at the blank screen, an irritating unease crawling inside. Without making a second attempt to type a few words, I get up from my chair and decide to grab the clothes off the closet floor and head to our washing machine. As I do this, I cannot concentrate because of the noise in my head and the clamor in my external environment.

I am still figuring out my relationship with noise. I’ve talked about how much I adore the quiet and how it is necessary for my pursuit of contentment, but lately, my gaze is turning toward how much noise I invite into my life. Do I need to spend time on situations I cannot control? Is it wise to speculate on speculating? How do I redirect some of this noise and channel it into something more positive? The observations and reflection proved unexpected as I pondered my responses, leaving me with more questions than answers. As I sorted through my thoughts, I longed for clarity, so I decided to lace my shoes and head for a jog during lunchtime.

Paying attention to the blue sky, the light and the shadow of the mountains and the music in my ears provided an immediate moment of comfort. I continued to let thoughts enter my head, welcoming the negative and the positive strands without judging what simmered to the top. Although I am trying to practice sitting mediation this year, running is an essential part of my routine; without it my restlessness grows like a green ivy scaling walls.

I quickened my pace and alongside of me, a flash of red and blue lights flickered while a brief siren echoed in the background. My first thought pushed me to steer away from the noise, but instead, I paused as a stream of cars, headlights bright, moved in a single file line. At one precise moment of time, I noticed a white hearse as a part of this brigade of automobiles on my left, while on my right, a hummingbird flitted along my pathway.

Between a hearse and a hummingbird.

Part of me longed to dismiss this occurrence as a coincidence, but the juxtaposition wasn’t one I could readily ignore. I’ve always felt a pull to listen to the universe, especially when it is trying to push me to recognize some of truth or offer advice. What do I value? And am I spending enough time dedicating my time to what nourishes me? Paying attention to what keeps me out of of synch, I realized, is just as important as directing my gaze toward the non-negotiables in my life. What does this mean?  Downtime, sleep, exercise, writing, reading, dinner with my family, meaningful conversations with friends, laughter and connecting with ideas and people who I adore is what I long for on a daily basis. When one of these essentials teeters off my list, I’ve probably said yes to an event or person who is creating noise. I only have myself to blame when this occurs.

When I hear myself say that every moment is precious, I don’t dismiss it as trite. It’s true. Sometimes the reminders come in the most unexpected ways.

Image: Hummingbird by Texas Eagle via Flickr.