Hear! Hear! Time to Pay Attention.


When I was much younger I liked to leave the details up to the Other Guy. Things like buying a car, buying a house or getting married. Part of it was sort of an attitude towards being a female and the time I grew up. A guy was expected to sweat the details. No need to bother my pretty little head. Shame on me for buying into it, but I did. It was a perfectly legit excuse at the time. But the times don’t allow for that anymore, no matter what gender, race, age or political affiliation. If we aren’t awake, it’s going to hurt. Right now, we need to be listening. To hear. To be awake.

I’m not talking about our connection to the universe, our higher power, our Gods and our fantastic or not so fantastic moms. No one is ultimately taking care of any of us. In the words of Annie Lennox, sisters are doing it for themselves, brothers too. We need to be paying attention right now, today, tomorrow, because we are at a point in time and history where we have everything to lose.

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer, but life is now cheap. Our water is poisoned, our food is poisoned, all of us are a hurricane in the wrong part of the country away from being collateral damage. It has never been as important as it is now for us to understand what we are choosing in every aspect of our life. None of it can be left up to chance. Or what I always relied on, the guy. Or even The Other Guy.  Someone else will do it. There is no someone else. Someone Else got lead poisoning and died. So did The Other Guy.  We gotta’ fire that Other Guy. He/She doesn’t exist.

In my twenties and thirties, I tended to nod and smile politely when it was time to discuss the details. Especially when there were numbers involved. Part of that is my brain. I think in broad creative emotional strokes and come back and fill in the blanks afterwards. If someone spells something at me, or throws out a couple of numbers I get brain freeze. I started to really see the importance of paying attention when I was going through my divorce, and I experienced first-hand where leaving all the decision making up to the other person could leave you.

Once I was on my own, I was forced to pay attention to the details. The fine print. What was happening between the lines? How to change a tire. How to manage a 401K. Fifteen years later that muscle is primed and pumped.

The price I paid for not being completely dialed in was pretty dear. I am now part of a club that no one wants to be in, the non-curable Cancer club. It was pointed out by my current oncologist that I may have gone stage four because of a mistake a surgeon made when I was first diagnosed with “curable” Cancer six years ago. I loved and trusted that surgeon. Actually, I still do. The surgeon made a choice that was statistically sound, but turned out to be incorrect. Voila, three years later that Cancer percolated and metastasized. I wasn’t informed or asked about it at the time. I wouldn’t have known even what to ask. I don’t trust anyone implicitly any more. Not because I think someone is intentionally trying to be malicious. But because I’ve learned that people in all walks of life make mistakes for all kinds of reasons that cost other people all kinds of things.

The point is, rarely are we getting the whole picture. We see that in our world so clearly now as decisions made by imperfect people that were made years ago are now bearing fruit. Decisions to poison and dump, take short cuts, cut financial corners, to treat groups of people as expendable.

Now, when I hear details, information, whether it is about my health, my car, my kids, the planet, I make a conscious effort to pay attention and really hear. I write it down. I google, I research. I make myself accountable. Am I good at it? Better than when I was thirty, still not good enough. But I work at it.

That way, when I am surprised, it is over a nice dinner that my kids made me. Not something that happened because I wasn’t paying attention. I do my best to be awake. It’s what is called for, by all of us.




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