Pay Attention

I sailed right through a stop sign yesterday morning.  Didn’t even see it.  A polite young police officer pulled me over.  After endless minutes checking up on me, he encouraged me to pay attention.   A kind warning.  And a wake up call.

Pay attention.

In these days of my life where I’ve been trying to live with INTENTION, perhaps what comes first is living with ATTENTION.
 
When did I stop paying attention? 

It’s not just the stop sign, of course, although that’s a pretty jarring and dangerous example.  It’s also conversations I don’t remember the details of.  It’s entering a room, only to exit it a minute later, baffled by my purpose in entering in the first place.  It’s forgotten appointments, grocery store needs, and phone calls I promised to make.  It’s mindless head-nodding when others speak to me.  It’s onto the next thing.  Check it off the list. Go. Go. Go.

When did my mind become so preoccupied with the swirling pinwheel of my own thoughts? 

I live a half-life.  Fragmentally conscious.  Aware in bits and pieces.  Only a dull focus splintered and random.

Consider the hyphenated … absent-minded.

YES.

I feel like slapping my own face awake.  Look up!  Look out!  Look around! 

More grounded and attentive … I will know the life I’m living and the detailed circumstances of the world around me. 

Tune in.  Vigilant.  Step up.  Call to mind. 

TUNE IN.  Paying attention to the needs of others, I will text less and talk more.  I will be pleasant company, an engaged and active communication partner.  I will ask questions.  I will smile and listen to the point of UNDERSTANDING.

VIGILANT. Paying attention to my needs, I will sit when I need rest, go to bed when I am tired, and eat when I am hungry. 

STEP UP.  Paying attention to my responsibilities, I will multi-task no more, able to evaluate clearly the next right thing to do.  I will transform Nike’s Just Do It … into Do It Now.

CALL TO MIND.  Paying attention to the world around me, I will notice.  I will experience.  Using my senses, I will remember.  The smooth gray worn rock on the beach.  The breeze through the window.  The slant of sun rays across the backyard in early morning and the bard owl’s call just after midnight.

“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.”  
Susan Sontag

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