Paying Attention

Well, I think I’m finally experiencing the beginnings of writer’s block. Or at least, the dam that broke around the time I started this thing is starting to level off. Maybe I just need to take another shower. I always get my best ideas there. Quit laughing –I know I’m not the only one who does that. I checked in this morning and, if you’re really perceptive, you’ll see that I added a little counter to the side (unless I’m the only one that can see it…). 128 hits to this site as of this morning. Now, that’s scary. Either I have a couple friends who just have way too much time on their hands, or I have more friends than I thought. Wow. 128 reads.

The older I get the more I am becoming a firm believer in serendipity. After Sam and I took the “Charting Your Course” seminar last …I guess it was last January or February in Arizona, I started shifting once again from art to writing more, and since I’ve done that, it seems I’ve been deluged with confirmation that I’ve just really been not paying attention for a long, long time. There’s a post on my Xanga blog (Wed. Sept. 27) dealing with a lot of this story, so I won’t repeat it here, but I just am amazed by how God weaves things together and punctuates our lives with the “a-ha” moments at just the right times, and leaves us scratching our heads as to why we were so slow to pick up on that still, small shout of God’s.

And, I wonder how many of us are wandering around, still not hearing it. I wonder what I’m still not hearing yet, because I’m not so deluded as to think I’m getting it all yet, either. But, how did I miss all the clues? …I’ve loved reading ever since early elementary years, and most of the notes on my report cards had to do with either reading or writing. It drove me NUTS in first grade when the kids in my class read aloud slowly and without expression. I just didn’t understand how they could be so apathetic about something so exciting. It never occurred to me that someone could have trouble with the mechanics of reading. Now I understand differently, but it still bothers me that kids (or most adults, for that matter)  just don’t read any more. One of my favorite memories growing up was trudging home from the library in the snow with the latest Laura Ingalls Wilder book to read curled up on a chair by the Christmas tree, trying to see how quickly I could finish the book while still catching the story. So, that love was instilled in me a long, long time ago. And, I loved writing as well, although it wasn’t something I did on purpose. I just wrote as therapy. I kept a journal through high school (…and I’ve thought more than once about burning it) to keep myself sane. It was a sounding board, a captive audience. The page guided me to the answers I needed more than once. I didn’t need to perform when I wrote –it just happened. I didn’t have any iron clad self-imposed expectations to fulfill. So, maybe that’s why I’m so surprised, and so not surprised at the same time that this is the thing that it seems, I’m all about.

When we were first married, Sam and I attended a small church in Cedar Hill, Texas that became like family to us. Our pastor became acquainted with a couple who had a ministry of healing prayer and hosted that couple one weekend to do a workshop on it. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I volunteered to be the subject for …examination?? I’m having trouble coming up with the right idea here. Anyway, we sat and talked about my background, where I came from, so to speak, and some of the struggles I was having –one of which was finding out where I fit, cosmically speaking. I was having a huge problem doing anything artistic, and, at the time, I thought that was what I was all about. At the time, I thought perhaps illustration would be a good venue for me, since I love books so much… Sigh. I was missing the message again. Anyway, we prayed about this, and as we did, Claire began to see a pile of books, beautiful books –of course, we all thought that was going to be the books I would someday illustrate. I now know (serendipity again…) that those books weren’t the ones I was going to illustrate with drawings, but word pictures. Those are the books I will write, and the book of my own story being written each day by the things that surround and impact me. The serendipity part of this is that I just last week came across the business card of this couple, and now that I have the rest of the story (or at least, the next part of it…), I can let her know what that vision was about.

 Sam and I watched The Weather Man with Nicholas Cage this weekend (disclaimer: it’s yet another movie with a wonderful story line, thought provoking, but with a couple totally unneccesary scenes that trash up the entire movie… I hate it when they do that.). It’s basically the story of a man who just wasn’t paying attention, and his life was in ruins around him (quiet ruins –the type that most people experience, but no one really notices) because he was living life as if he was sleepwalking through it. He just wasn’t listening. Now, there was no mention of God, or even the Oprah-esque idea of a Higher Power (…theres another blog entry coming on my impressions of the “Church of Oprah.” Stay tuned.), so the ending was basically as empty and answerless as the beginning, but it made me wonder how many of us every day lead, as Thoreau would say, “lives of quiet desperation.” Do we really need to? True, paying attention costs us. It costs us safety and comfort at times, but look at the result of those that have listened (Martin Luther, Mother Teresa, Tony Campolo, for example)! And look at the alternative! Who really wants to shuffle through life from alarm clock to Leno every day just going through the motions? But how many of us do just that thing ourselves? What would happen if we all just paid attention for a day or two? Maybe it would change the world.

**A note for the easily impressed –if you highlight the burgundy colored words in this entry, you’ll find a link pertaining to what I’m talking about, for example, if you click on the words “The Weather Man,” I’ve linked to Focus on the Family’s “Plugged In Online” site so you can get a review of the movie, and also some information about it, should you find it worth slogging through the muck enough to watch it.