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Some have called our time the Age of Anxiety. An age of heightened tensions. And I think we all feel it at times.

There’s past tense—the tension of living “If only” as in…

If only this had happened…or if only that hadn’t happened…then I could have been something.”

There’s future tense–the tense of living “Someday when” as in…

Someday when I get the education…or get the big promotion…or find the right partner…or find the right situation…then I can really start to live.”

But, of course, life only happens in the present.

James Thurber put it like this:

“Let us not look backward in regret or forward in fear but around us in awareness.”

Thurber is talking about turning “tension” into “attention”—paying closer attention to the people and situations and incredible life going on around us right here, right now.

He is talking about slowing down, quieting down, and investing a little time each day in what really matters—to do the little things that make today human, meaningful. To truly listen to someone. To take the time to care. To start building a bridge.

He is talking about the magical possibilities of me becoming a more aware person—not someday, but today.

In the Middle Ages, some people believed in alchemy: the dream of turning ordinary elements into gold. That dream, of course, was an illusion.

But the dream of turning “tension” into “attention” is very real. It can help us turn ordinary days into something extraordinary and precious.