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This is gonna get stuck in your head.

Let me tell you a story about youth sports before concussion protocol.

During the beautiful time that was the 1980's, we spent summers on the softball fields at Little Blue Trace park.

And if I wasn't playing in my own game, I was bat girl for my big sister's. Running to and from home plate, dodging the swinging batter in the on-deck circle was a particularly useful skill. Especially if said batter was Jennifer Harvey, the Andy Reid of Raytown Girls Softball League. 

On one fateful bat-retrieval trip, I was distracted. Likely pondering which flavor Fun Dip I was going to select for my post-game concessions treat. Jennifer Harvey was taking full swings. My unhelmeted head was at perfect-strike-level. Ouch.

If you were lucky enough to enjoy youth sports participation, you're familiar with the cheers. Tell me you know this one:



Be Be Aggressive



Alternate lyrics would have been helpful to me that day:



Pay Pay Attention



I wasn't aware of that possible lyric swap in 1983, but thanks to Smitty, I am now.

(Sidenote - I could write a novel on Smitty's unique and unrivaled ability to change the words to any song, keep the melody and cadence exactly the same, and effectively ruin any song you think you like by making you unable to hear the actual, as-written words ever again.)

This new cheer is unbelievably useful to me in 2019.

To use for strangers, when I'm sitting at the green light behind the person on their phone.

Pay. Attention. Pay Pay Attention.

To use for strangers, when I'm walking my dogs and have to dive into a yard to avoid being run over.

Pay. Attention. Pay Pay Attention.

To use for folks who've clearly replied to my email before reading the whole thing. Or for folks scrolling with their thumbs while we're having a face-to-face conversation. (Gulp. I'm guilty of both of those.) 

Pay. Attention. Pay Pay Attention.

And on that note...

Way, WAY more often than I'd like to admit, to use on myself. 

A few weeks ago, I was grumbling about the shoes I'd ordered on Amazon being uncomfortable. They pinch in ways my previous, identical pair did not. Upon further inspection, they are size 7.5. 

I wear 8.5. Surely they sent the wrong size. {Checks Amazon account. Nope. They sent what I ordered.}

I've been wearing the wrong size shoe since April.

It's one thing for my toes to suffer from my lack of attention. But there's so much more to this than that.

Because here's what I've learned: the level of intensity with which something screams for my attention is typically inverse to its actual level of importance. 

The loudest stuff is almost always the least meaningful. It storms around and clanks pans and is hard to ignore.

The tiny little quiet things that matter tiptoe around in the shadows and dare us to notice. 

The elderly couple in the parking lot who simultaneously, instinctively reach for each other's hand, as cars begin to whiz past. 

The 3-year-old at the park begging, "Grandpa, let's skip!" And Grandpa obliging in the best, most awkward and goofy way.

The incredible beauty that's everywhere and all the time if I'm just able to pay attention.

Not easy but so worth it. I'll cheer you on if you'll return the favor.


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