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Have you ever become aware of something you werenít paying attention to, and then you canít stop noticing it? Vary the question however you wantófrom counting something to hearing the furnace turn onóI think we all have something like this happen to us from time to time.

A clock ticking on a shelf. The number of steps on the stairs to the basement. A fingerprint on the television screen. The possibilities are truly endless. They occur at times, both perfectly fine and very annoying. And once they begin, often they just do not stop.

Went out for a walk the other night. As I left the house, I happened to glance at the app on my phone to see where I was at that point of the day for steps. The next step I took, the count began. 1, 2, 3Ö all the way down the drivewayÖ 61, 62, 63Ö along the front edge of the yardÖ 110, 111, 112Ö across the street and truly out for my stroll. I was around 250 before I finally found a song to listen to that caught my attention and got me to stop rattling off numbers as I took step after step.

On a shelf in one of the bedrooms of our house is a clock. Kind of a mantel clock, with a raised face and a pendulum. And yes, the swinging pendulum does come with a rhythmic tick, tick, tick sound. Most of the time, we donít notice it. The ticking just blends into the background. But all it takes is one moment, usually that arrives as youíre drifting off to sleep, and the sound lands in your ear. Suddenly, you canít hear anything but the steady clicking as it knocks around the house.

Thereís a collage of pictures in the hallway. Been framed and on display in the same spot for years. I walk past it every day, usually without even noticing the frame as I do. But yesterday morning, a photograph caught my attention. Iíve looked at it every time Iíve been in that hall since.

Could be just about anything. And once it starts, eventually it fades into the background. Maybe it resurfaces again (and maybe it doesnít). Itís never anything specific, so there isnít something to avoid. Whatever it is, it just is. It suddenly just is. (Well, thereís the clock. Nothing sudden there. I like it. A lot. But I could get rid of the clock. That could be avoided.)

A few years ago, people were talking about a song. Claimed it was everywhere. For some reason, to this day, I havenít heard the song. (I will admit Iím a bit scared about even mentioning the songís actual name. Iím told itís hideously catchy and brutally annoying. No need to tempt the fates and poke the bear by saying it out loud.) Ever managed to never see something only to suddenly have it everywhere?

Commercial on television about a month ago. Friends were talking about it. I hadnít seen it. Then, suddenly, it was in every show I turned on. It was everyplace I looked, in everything I watched. I couldnít avoid it.

The weird part for me is how it sweeps in out of nowhere and suddenly dominates everything. Didnít matter to you a few moments ago. You werenít even aware of it a few moments ago. And then that damn fingerprint completely distracts you. Itís a fingerprint, and once you notice it, you see it and pretty much nothing else on the screen.

You donít have a choice. There is no way to avoid it. You just need to ride out the storm until things calm down. Eventually, one of two things happen. The ticking disappears into the background again, or you clean the television screen and remove the mark. Gone for now and gone for good.

Whatever you do, just donít swipe your fingers across the even coat of dust on the entertainment center. Youíll regret that.


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