Sunday, July 13, 2008

Paying Attention

In one of my college classes we read a book with the words “Paying Attention” in the title or subtitle. Ironically, I don’t remember. But the main tenet was that we needed to pay attention to the things going on around us. That particular book focused on technology and education and the inequalities that can be found in different school in regard to access to technology. But the same idea came up in a later class that was about teaching reading and writing. One of the biggest things we need to be able to do is to pay attention, to notice things, before we could teach or change whatever it was that needed changing. Then, a few years later I was in a program that focused so much on reflection that it became a bit of a joke, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t their purpose. So, over the course of 3 years I had a lot of encouragement to notice things and mull them over, to try to make sense of them.

Now, I’m not always the quickest person, and it wasn’t until last night that I figured out the importance of paying attention even when involved in non-academic pursuits. For example, if I had been paying attention I would have noticed that the last three pieces of a quilt block I had been sewing weren’t actually sewn together because my bobbin thread had run out. After I finally made this connection I started thinking of all the other times I should be paying attention, or, to be fair, maybe just more attention.

Cooking is an important time to pay attention. There’s the whole don’t forget to pull things out of the oven issue, but more sinister is noticing that the oven is still on three hours after your dinner guests have left. No wonder it was so warm upstairs.

It’s important to pay attention when knitting as well. Then maybe you won’t realize that you dropped 1 stitch in your fair isle pattern two rows up and that that is why the mitten is looking just a bit wonky.

Driving, particularly during construction season, is a great time to pay attention to road signs that proclaim lane and road closures and, conveniently enough, detour routes, before you get to the actual “Road Closed” sign. Paying attention to these things can even cut your drive time!

So, there are clearly many small times in life when we should be paying attention, lots of attention, to the things going on around us. Even as I’m typing this, I’m noticing that, along with all of his other 3-month clothing, my son’s pajamas are getting too small for him. The little caps that fold over his hands are no longer keeping even most of his fingers and their accompanying nails tucked safely away from his eyes.

And now I’m noticing that in 10 minutes we need to leave the house. And here’s the biggest point to all of this: if you pay attention and notice something like this, the next step is almost more important, you have to actually do something about it.

(And, I just had to correct the spelling in the title line. It was spelled wrong all day long! How funny is that!)


thefeltedsheep said...

Great post! and so true! Loved reading it

Lisa said...

I noticed the misspelling in the title, and thought about mentioning something about paying attention to spelling (which I'm terrible at). I agree...we should all pay attention to more things in life...