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  • Kerry D. Krauss

Pay Attention

Yesterday while I speedily whipped baked ziti together, I speedily burned the top of my hand on the oven rack. My hands notoriously move faster than they should. They busily fuss about a day typing letters, opening doors, playing guitar, flipping the pages on a book. They often move without me having to babysit them. I do have vested interest in knowing what they’re doing, I just don’t always heed their recklessness. I don’t give them enough credit.

The same could be said about me feet and legs. My mouth to a lesser degree. Where I have controlled my mouth as a professional courtesy, my hands have not yet learned that they work better in union with my brain.

The blistered smear joins a multitude of other burns, jabs, cuts, cracks, slices, impalements, nicks, and scratches. Each one a different story. Each one the same lesson—PAY ATTENTION. A moment of carelessness inattention leaves temporary bumps and permanent scars. They accumulate like old sweatshirts; I have a fondness for each scar, a tenderness for the risk, for the successes and the failures.

Pay attention. As a lover of words and phrases, ‘pay attention’ may slide right past us on most nights. Tonight, it seems a loaded term. Pay attention…there is a price to be paid for being attentive. There is a price to be paid for being inattentive. The price for being attentive is sacrifice. We give our attention willingly, generously. Scars are the price for being inattentive—at best. At worst, our inattention wounds far deeper than the first few layers of skin.

In March we paid very close attention—to the news, to the experts, to our neighbors, to our families. We took time to call. We took the effort to stay at home. We took important measures to ensure our welfare and the welfare of our local, national, and worldwide community. We willingly and joyfully paid the price of tending to our world.

We have retreated—at a price. We don’t pay attention to experts. We don’t pay attention to our neighbors and our families as we did three months ago. We don’t pay attention the sickhurtwoundedness in our worldwide community. We have politicized the virus and it has made us sicker than the virus.

We need to pay attention. We need to pay the price for being attentive—to listen, to care, to empathize, to feel what others are feeling and not judge them for their feeling. These days, the price of being inattentive is far greater than the price of being attentive.

PAY ATTENTION TO ME TONIGHT:

I love you.

I need you.

I hope for you.

Please be safe.

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