Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Everything Changes: Pay Attention

Daily Prompt: Everything Changes

by michelle w. on August 6, 2013

Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

Pay Attention

Everything changed that warm spring morning as I sped past the houses on my street I was intent on getting to the bus stop before the bus. I failed to see the bright slip of paper lying in my path until I had stepped on it. Curious, I unfolded the paper. On it were two words, written in a flowing, cursive script: Pay Attention.

Well, I thought, these two words certainly are not meant for me.  I never missed an assignment or a day of work unless I was really sick. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave work every day. Attention to detail, that was my creed. Why hurry home, anyway? There was nobody there.

I reached the bus stop, and studied the paper. The warm sun felt good on my tired shoulders and I took a deep breath and relaxed. I looked around. I really hadn’t had the time to notice that it was a beautiful day.  The lawns were just beginning to put on their bright green summer dress. . Flowers filled the air with fragrance, spilling out of window boxes and baskets hanging from lampposts. The chirping of the birds as they flew about searching for food to feed their hungry babies was a symphony of sounds. It was as if nature was broadcasting a special video just for me.  I sat back to enjoy the show and noticed two tree squirrels playing tag, one of the birds was bathing in a nearby neighbor’s birdbath. Some children began bouncing a ball to one another, their laughter adding a chorus to the symphony.

Did this happen every day?  I wondered. A whole world unfolding around me as I rushed from home to work and back again? Of course it did, but when was it I had stopped noticing it.? When did doing replace just looking around, just noticing life, just paying attention.

I sat through two bus arrivals before I could pull myself off that bench and continue my morning commute. I was suddenly looking forward to lunch and the lovely green park across from my office complex.

Before the bus arrived, a man I had seen before arrived at the bus stop.  He looked at his watch, glanced down the street for the bus, then sighed with exasperation. He sat down, pulled out an iPad , immediately engrossed in it.  On impulse, I jotted three words onto the slip of paper and he didn’t notice me slip it into his jacket pocket when we boarded the bus. We took our seats on the bus. I sat behind him. A few minutes later he reached into his pocket, and pulled out the slip of paper. He stared at it for a few minutes, and then he slipped his iPad back into his briefcase and looked out the window. That video of life was still playing, and I saw the ghost of a smile soften his face. He was kind of cute when he smiled. The bus was nearing our stop, and as we exited the bus, I saw him slip the paper into the pocket of a distraught woman who had spent the bus ride shouting angrily into her iPhone. Then he turned and smiled at me. He nodded toward the park. “Lunch at noon?” he asked. I nodded my head yes, and he walked away, whistling a tune, while I almost skipped along the flower lined path to my building. I paused and looked back at the angry woman. She had the bright slip of paper in her hand, which now read: “ Pay Attention. Pass it on.” I hope she did. Maybe it is still being passed along. Maybe it will be the catalyst that changes everything.

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