500 Words on Attention

Still Life

Carl Sandburg
Cool your heels on the rail of an observation car.

(click here to read the rest of his poem)

Not only did this poem remind me of leaving Kansas City on a train bound for NY to go to college (airline strike then) but it also reaffirmed I’m on the right track in my journey (bad pun.)

I give more attention to my creative leanings.  I make space for writing and am adding art in with a simple trick. Put art materials out on the kitchen table.  It worked when I was with A & P in Bodega Bay.  They always have art stuff out to play with.  Their day gigs are information scientist and palliative care nurse.

Attention.  I realized Friday how many hours of closely listening to students read I have logged in my job so far this year.  A pile of records, un-analyzed amassed on my desk.  I decided to clean the desktop by filing the records into the student folders.  I see how my paying very close attention to the students is a brain share. It gives them time to do just that with their reading. And how much energy I pour into that.  In addition to coaching them tirelessly.

Another feature of attention is not giving it sometimes.  My OLW  (One Little Word) for this year is “Immunity” — not noticing staff and colleagues who are discontent or trying to dump has worked so well.  I see stuff coming and step out of the way, or when comments fly, I hardly pay them mind.  The classic “uh huh” like parents give when they are busy with other things.

So work is moving on that observation car, like Sandburg’s poem, sometimes at ninety miles an hour, but I’m the observer, not the details, not the work.  Not the job.

IMG_0033Simply having paper lying about and a couple of delicious pencils and pens, made it possible for me to sketch my impression of the drive from the highway through the farmland to get to Bodega Bay.  Another reason to have a convertible.

Attending to my self.  My responsibilities, yes, and my attitudes, yet also my need.  Yep, to be more creative is a need. It hasn’t gone away, like a mere want would have.

Sometimes I feel railroaded by time and the piecemeal demands of working 1.5 jobs.  Bits of my work involve creativity,like writing staff development for teachers.  But cutting and sorting word card sets for six LLI groups daily?  Not so much.

Cool your heels, indeed, Carl.  What a great idiom.  Slow down.  Pay attention.  What I pay attention to is what I attract.

I notice that I am ready for something new. A whisper. Be it raising the level of literacy or something I have only dreamed of, but not consciously thought — welcome!  Earlier in the year, I thought I’d retire to be more creative, but now I intend to find a niche that uses a wider bandwidth of my skills.

5 thoughts on “500 Words on Attention”

  1. There is so much here to like. I liked the part about leaving things out to play with, and the part about immunity. If you decide to revise, you might work on transitions–I had a little bit of trouble keeping up with you. (For the record, I hate working on transitions.) What I liked best was the part about the need to be creative not going away the way a want would have. Brilliant insight beautifully expressed.

  2. There’s a lot in this post! I was struck by your plan for “immunity” from others’ discontent. It’s a great idea. I try to just remove myself from those negative people, it’s so energy sucking to be around them for long.

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