Blogpost, self-reliance

Pay Attention!

This morning on my run, I was posting one of my typical Instagram videos. As I was walking, I heard a hissing. At that moment, I looked up from my phone and there was a goose accosting me for being too close to its chicks. By all means, I was in the wrong and should have been more aware of my surroundings. Sad to say, it happened again about a quarter mile down the path. A teenage girl with blue hair was off to the side with her pet lizard but I did not see them until I was about to pass by.

On a normal day, I would not have thought too much of these events. Luckily a friend introduced me to a documentary on Netflix called “My Octopus Teacher”. It’s the story of a man who visits the same site in the ocean for almost a year and “befriends” an octopus. In the beginning, he is less than perfect at reading the clues left behind and how to relate to the creature. Over time he understands what to pay attention to and just how much he had to learn from another life form.

Our world has a tendency to be so very loud and “in your face” that we often lose subtle or even not so subtle details. I know that I’ve bungled this majorly in recent weeks. It’s so easy to become enamored with your own perspective, objectives or desires that all details are lost. Therefore we end up with only a partial version of the world. We are always working with less information than is available but often the loudest signals are not the most important. Filtering that which is coming in becomes the paramount skill.

As I will say to my students from time to time, “it doesn’t take any cash to pay attention.” It looks like I need to heed my own advice. There is a full and beautiful world out there with subtlety that someone could spend a lifetime on. That type of beauty tends to get lost when we’re racing to the next thing. We can’t take it all in but figuring out what matters to us and paying attention to it is crucial!


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