Pay attention. This was the simple advice offered to all incoming freshman at the welcome Mass at the College of the Holy Cross. It then became the closing sentence in every one of the weekly letters my dad sent me during my four years in college and beyond. I guess that "Pay attention" could be perceived as a stern, teacherly admonishment; I've certainly been guilty of using it that way! I don't hear it that way though. To me it sounds like a gentle nudge toward mindfulness, a quick reminder to stay present.
I always try to pay attention...to the people around me, the simple pleasures of the day to day, what my body is telling me (Put the computer down and go to bed, woman!), but it is hard. I have a serious addiction to multi-tasking, and it is impossible to pay full attention when your focus is divided.
Lately, however, I am finding myself paying greater attention to the world around me, forcing myself to notice beauty or interest in small details. I credit this solely to my commitment to taking a photo a day. I am only 29 days in, but I have already exhausted the obvious photo subjects in and around my house. Today I went outside just as the sun was setting and tried to see with new things to photograph. I paid attention, and I was rewarded. I found both an abundance of new things to take pictures of, and a new appreciation for my mailbox, the tree next to my parking spot, and the fence around the apartment complex next door.What a lovely surprise.
I think that this list is going to end up being very good for me.