Paying Attention


A recent reply to a question asked during a prayerful moment was full of common sense and not much “revelation” of some new great path to take.

“Stay on the path laid out for you, work hard and pay attention.”

At first I was thinking about the hard work; that’s fairly easy for me, I’ve always worked hard and projects get completed that sometimes boggle my brain at the scope of committed endeavors. Staying on the path was not too hard to take in as I have felt that there is a definite path I’m being led down, especially since 2001 and reemphasized each time it jags off to other lands and adventures.

The paying attention slipped past me and I dismissed it, thinking I had that covered. Of course I pay attention, I thought. Then, while looking for the business of a new client in Bentonville, I was almost run over doing a bone head move. Narrowly missing a big black truck cruising in his correct lane, I swerved back in and managed to make my turn into the business, albeit rather shakily.

That incident reminds me of the night I arrived in Israel and walking back from dinner late with my new roommate, I asked, “What is behind that big gate over there?” She said, “That is where the President lives.” Walking across the deserted street checking the settings on my camera, I asked, “President of what?” “Israel,” she replied. Surprised that the President’s house was situated on a normal street I started taking photos.

About that time this amazing man popped his head out from around the corner of a room just outside of the gate. Incredibly good looking, he was outfitted in the green military uniform, the black baret perched on the side of his head, shiny black boots with the pants tucked in perfectly, sidearms and an automatic rifle at the ready. “What are you doing?”, he asked. Smiling like the goofy American we can be at times, I said, “I’m taking photos of this gate. My friend told me the President lives here and I’m amazed he lives right here on the street.” After looking at the photos and assuring himself that I was not someone to do harm, he told me to be on my way.

A really good example of not paying attention. Yeah, I made it out of the situation. But the wise thing would have been to stop and inquire further before venturing in. I was fortunate that it was dismissed by the guard and I was able to go on my way.

Early in the morning, on just waking, I have been practicing for some time now the habit of making sure my thoughts are good ones. It is easy to allow, coming out of that groggy state, a series of successive negative thoughts to form your entire day. Paying attention to your thoughts is extremely important; where your thoughts go you are probably going to follow.

Paying attention, in all the little details of life, is one way of not having to do a do over. You know about do overs. The fried potatoes that burn due to lack of attention at critical moments. The vegetable planted in too much shade making it unable to produce properly. Realizing those biting sensations are chiggers and it’s too late to get to a shower and scrub them off before they do damage. Paying attention to that quiet still voice in your spirit, directing you in your every day life, not just those moments of extreme decision making times.

So pay attention. Don’t dismiss it as too elemental a directive. I think due to our constantly being told since childhood to pay attention that we have relegated this important piece of advise to the simplistic and thus miss many opportunities to realize our blessings and avoid disasters. Paying attention–my latest, and before now thought too simple, directive.

Makes me realize the “Stay on the path and hard work” part probably isn’t what I thought either….


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