What's Right?

Allow me to share with you how I ruined and then rescued a perfectly good walk. It was yesterday in New York City. The sun was up, the birds were out. I was going at a solid clip down Lafayette Street.

I turned a corner and had a little rush of awareness: this morning is really special stuff, I thought.

And my very next thought was, Hold your horses. There's plenty wrong with life.

And just like that, I'd gone from delight to disparagement. We humans have been so well primed to ask, What's wrong here? To not let ourselves relax into the moment, for fear we'll get caught flatfooted by bad news.

Somehow, on Lafayette Street, I caught myself. Okay, I thought, you didn't really let the goodness of that moment sink in.

So I offered myself a question: If you can name what's wrong here, why not name what's right, too?

This isn't easy for me. It feels Pollyannaish. But naming what's right doesn't negate what's wrong. It just opens up our focus to include more than the tough stuff.

So, I started naming: My legs work. The sun's out. I have a phone filled with the numbers of people I love. My bag isn't too heavy.

Very, very gently, my focus got inclusive. It still held the negative, no-good stuff. But alongside that, it held the sunlight and some gratitude for working legs.

I would have to remind myself again and again to expand my attention beyond what's wrong. But for that moment on Lafayette Street, I attended to what was right. And it was really special stuff.

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FocusCaitie Whelan