What we need to know about paying attention

In a week of walks along the Deschutes River, I snapped several photos (is it snapped if you’re using a cell phone? shouldn’t it be tapped?). Photos of young guitar player on large boulder; beautifully-choreographed fly fisherman’s cast; fallen tree growing its own green lawn.

As many times as I’ve walked this portion of the river trail—hundreds of times—it seems there’s always something new to photograph. Like this rock sculpture.


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Deschutes River trail


The crazy thing is, we don’t always notice what we have until it’s threatened. Hubby and I were guilty of this. But in time, we learned to focus on what remained, and not what we would never ever ever have again.

Here’s what we need to know about paying attention:

1. We’re not going to always have the people we love with us. Pay attention to them. Now. Speak words of love and affirmation to them. Today.

2. We won’t always have the health and flexibility we might be enjoying today. Use your legs, your mind, your hands. Go places, think up great ideas, create things.

3. The work and expertise we enjoy today will more than likely change. Companies get bought out. Technology improves. Certainly we can keep up with a changing world to an extent, but eventually it will pass us by. Which means if we have rewarding work now, we should probably appreciate it now.

4. Our creativity won’t always come easy to us. Do you design bridges, repurpose scrap metal into art, stitch quilts, stack towers of rocks in rivers? Notice your gifts; use them to create beauty and purpose and fun. While you can.

5. All those simple pleasures that help make up a good life — those things might not always be accessible to us. You know, things like a welcoming place called home; greeting the lighting of a new day with steaming mug of tea; cooking good food for people we love; trekking on moonlit snow; playing fetch with a dog that won’t quit; catching a great concert or show; laughter of children … (you realize this simple pleasures list actually gets quite long, right?).

This from L.R. Knost, a best-selling author:

Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and inhale during the ordinary.

I’ve breathed in the amazing. I’ve endured through the devastating. As for those days in between — those ordinary ones — there really are no ordinary days. Only extravagant, extraordinary gifts of days.

May we sit up and pay attention to them. May we live them expansively, generously, gratefully.

What should we pay attention to this week? What words of appreciation should we speak today?

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Cheryl

    Thanks for the inspiration! Your photos are amazing!

  2. Heather

    Always amazed by your insight and challenging words!

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