Paying Attention
Bill McDonald’s Website Newsletter
May 2021 - Volume 21, No. 5
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“I Don’t Know What’s Going to Happen Today”

I don’t know where I found this little saying. It was some years ago. I printed it out using my little Brother label-maker, and stuck it just below my bathroom mirror. It’s been there ever since - reminding me to keep open to those unforeseen moments that can insert themselves into my everyday life.

I know I could make it fancy - within my laptop I’ve got programs and apps that could add color, make it ornate, dress it up with fancy decorations, find some fancy font for it (I’m sure I’ve got a couple hundred available there without even accessing the internet.) 

But for me it’s the basic simplicity of 1/2 inch shiny plastic white label material, with a black Ariel font on the lower wood frame of my bathroom vanity mirror. A simple reminder to pay attention during the day for those unexpected moments of serendipity that can otherwise be unnoticed or forgotten. 

For years now I’ve labelled these monthly newsletters “Pay Attention” - not necessarily as a warning of danger, but as a reminder that we often live in a world that can blandly pass us by unnoticed. If you’re like me, a phrase from a song can get ‘stuck in my brain.’ Apparently a week or so ago I happened upon the old song “My Grandfather’s Clock” with the phrase “life seconds numbering” - till it stopped forever the moment he died in his 90th year.

How’s that for a ‘pay attention’! Much more at my own later age than when we sang it in High School chorus.

And at the end of the day

We look in the mirror differently at the end of the day. At the day’s beginning we’ll usually check how we’ll present ourselves visually once we turn around to enter the day. And the message is to maintain an expectant openness to what life may present to us.

And at the end of the day it’s more than just the evening toothbrushing.

The words are the same, but the message is different. Now I’m reminded to look back over the day, especially to mark and remember what was new or unanticipated. Those who push for a life of ‘gratitude’ are doing much the same thing. Always to look at life in terms of what otherwise we may have missed. 

I recall when very young, my parents taught me to pray at the end of each day. I’d kneel by my mattress and recall out loud the blessings of the day, as well as pray a blessing on each member of my family. (Later I’d take this inside, where I had more privacy.)

Much of the meaning of a day is found between the bookends of its mornings and evenings. Most if not all spiritual traditions have a prayer or a ritual to sanctify or make holy each contained day (or week, month, year, or lifetime).

It’s not just where the facts lie, it’s where Life is when we set ourselves to ….

Pay attention.

Bill McDonald

[ It’s akin to the Latin aphorism CARPE DIEM (seize the day) ]

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Bill McDonald
Fenton, Michigan

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