Lesson 101 on Paying attention
“Pay attention!” is the traditional teachers’ catch phrase, but it is commonly used by the instructor to the instructee, rather than the other way round.
However, I found it saved a lot of trouble if it worked both ways. After all, there is always the outside possibility that what your captive audience is feeding back to you is actually true.
I learnt that listening to what people were telling me, whether by fretting, fidgetting, whinging, shouting or generally making a nuisance of themselves, was a reliable signpost to where I was going wrong, or to some other aspect of the situation that was less than satisfactory to those on the receiving end. It was a helpful indicator of what needed to change.
Very, very occasionally, when I stopped rushing and paid attention to what was going on around me, I even had a sudden insight into what I wanted from life, the universe and everything.
The first time this happened was when I was in the Isle of Wight with Mandy’s school and I went to check on one of the bedrooms while everyone was downstairs. The window looked down the road to the beach, everything was still and the early summer evening was just slipping into twilight. Suddenly I just knew that this was all I wanted. It was quite simply a view of the sea. Not a stratospheric career or untold riches, but just a comfortable, peaceful seat by a window that looked out on the sea and the sky.
Life sometimes tells us what we need if we are able to stop and listen. We may still have to work out the practicalities of getting there, but at least it clarifies the way we have to direct our steps.
I sit in my open window now, with a book by my side, and the sea breeze cooling the heat of the late afternoon and I am grateful, oh so grateful, that I stopped to pay attention on that evening long ago.