The Seven Pillars of Wisdom – 2

Pillar 2 – Pay Attention
(especially to the humour in all situations)

The Phoenix Perspective:
99.9% of all the problems we get into are because we weren’t paying attention.


Most people think that they are being blind sided by life, almost continually. They wake up one day, and everything seems to have changed, and they assume that there is nothing they can do, or could have done, that would have made a difference. In truth, there are very few accidents.

Well sure, there are true accidents. Planes fall from the sky, people get sick, tragedies occur. Some of life, a very small percentage, is unpredictable. Mostly, though, life unfolds rather predictably. And the following is so: as soon as we stop paying attention, we get whacked.

Most people think it’s all genetics and chance. We say, “Here I am, in my own situation, with little choice. I’m here because of my family, uncontrollable situations, fate.”And you’d be partially right. The missing piece is: you are also where you are because of the things you failed to notice.

For example, many of us form relationships based on what we don’t want. “I don’t want to be alone.” “At least he doesn’t treat me as badly as the last one did.” We make decisions based upon settling for the way things are. “At least this isn’t the worst job possible. I’ll make the best of it.” We blame. “He was out to get me and I didn’t see it coming.”It is essential to get past all of this.

So, we recommend a course in silent observation. What’s going on in your life, your relationship, your work, right now? What aspects are you taking for granted? What pieces are you missing?

And then, there’s humour. We tend to be awfully serious. In that, we miss the comedy that’s happening around us. The way people act, the things that pop out of their, and your mouth, the spin you put on things, all have humour potential. If you’ll lighten up, have fun and notice.

Now, we don’t mean to imply that life is only a joke. We, of course, are opting for balance. It is actually possible to observe life seriously, while at the same time appreciating its fundamental silliness. We, for example, spend out entire lives piling up degrees, titles and money, and then we get old, sick and die. Boom. Game, seemingly, over. And all of the things that we pretended were us, the titles, degrees, possessions, mean nothing.

Until you get the joke.

You are not what you possess. Actually, you are what possesses you.

So, we turn to focusing in on finding our true selves. In this process we uncover pain, illusion, distress and the ultimate absurdity of life. Once we have begun this walk, we have the potential to sit quietly and simply be who we are. We sit inside of ourselves, locating ourselves where we are and it becomes very difficult to take us completely by surprise.

We begin to see that all of the “coincidences” of life aren’t. The more we come into ourselves and live in the moment, the more aware we become of the underlying order of creation.

Your ninth exercise: Write down one or more examples of times when you lost focus, then later realized that what you thought was going on wasn’t.

tenth lesson

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