Attention is a weird something. It is more than an action because it takes one external and internal personas to make it a reality. It isn’t just something you do, you have to communicate what you are doing to others in order for it to be complete. Additionally, you need to understand and remember, for the essence of the word to have any meaning. When I was younger, frequently people did not think I was paying attention even though I was. Now that I am older, frequently I get credit for paying attention even when I am in another world.
It is dangerous to walk the streets of New York without paying attention, even in the middle of the day. The danger comes from more than evil individuals lurking in the shadows. One’s lack of attention can unleash pent up anger on the subway by carelessly bumping into a stranger. One’s lack of attention can risk being hit while crossing the street, even when it is done under a green light and the watchful eye of New York’s finest. One’s lack of attention can invite those less fortunate to take advantage of the lowered defenses.
Yet, knowing the warnings does not seem to change my behavior. I know not paying attention gives rise to many different types of risk, yet I walk blissfully through the dark streets of New York’s Lower East Side. I accidently bump strangers on the train, naively ignoring the potential rage I could unleash. I wander through a day, in my own world, without listening to the Spirit that gives guidance and hope. Candidly, my lack of attention could rob me of life and everything I hold as precious and true.
I’m not the first, but this doesn’t change the state of being. God warned his children of old; “you didn't pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob. You so quickly tired of me, Israel.” (Isaiah 43.22) The warning could apply to me on most days. Today will be an exception. My prayer is that I always find myself in attention.
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