If You Really Pay Attention

by Paula Underwood


When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, “You remember what he said, honey girl?”  I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.

And he did this all the time.

Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street.  And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.

Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl.  He’s pretty interesting.”  And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.

Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim.  I knew them all by heart.

And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that.  But did you hear his heart?”  And I thought, what?  So I went around for days with my ear to people’s chest trying to hear their hearts.

Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper.  He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines.”

I thought, “Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words.”

So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words.  My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, “Yes.  He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories.”

It just came out of me.  In other words, my heart echoed his heart.

And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.

–Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation

Wise Man’s 10 Rules of Life

1-Do not hope that your body will be free from illness. If you do not experience illness, you will be fallen to temptation in arrogance and thus act immorally.
Therefore, the wise man says that you should think of your illnesses as good medicine to learn from.

2-Do not expect a life free from hardships. Without the experience of hardships, you will become arrogant and boastful.
Therefore, the wise man says to gain wisdom from the obstacles of life.

3-Do not expect to learn self-discipline without any hardships. Without hardships, your learning will always be incomplete.
Therefore, the wise man says to think of the obstacles as everyday occurrences.

4-There will always be people who will not cooperate with your plans. If there were not, you would not be able to learn.
Therefore, the wise man says to befriend those who will be against you so that they may help you to learn.

5-Do not expect your plans to be fulfilled easily. If they are easily fulfilled, you will be prone to arrogance.
Therefore, the wise man says to enjoy the overcoming of obstacles as learning experiences.

6-Do not befriend someone for your own interest only. If you do, you will only hurt yourself.
Therefore, the wise man says to seek friends who may not always agree with you so that you may learn from them.

7-Do not expect others to always agree with you. If they do, you will always think that you are always right.
Therefore, the wise man says to look to those who disagree with you so that you may learn from them and become wise.

8-Do not expect something in return for helping someone. If you expect something, then you will become prone to arrogance.
Therefore, the wise man says to forget and to be satisfied only with the help that you have given.

9-Do not expect to gain more than you have contributed. If you gain more than you have put in, then you will have evil thoughts which will prevent your progress.
Therefore, the wise man says to be satisfied with humble profits.

10-Do not always try to vindicate your feelings of victimization. If you try to vindicate yourself, you will have to put the blame on someone or something else.
Therefore, the wise man says that through this experience, you can open the door of self-discipline