My father used to shout this out when I was small and in danger of hurting myself, usually while doing something dumb, like running into the street after a ball.
My mother however used to say this to me, in a slow, low voice, accompanied by piercing eyes, when I was a teenager and in danger of being hurt emotionally, by my own headlong rush into territory I didn't yet understand, or by a careless boy, let's say.
About six years ago, when I was working on a magazine article with a life coach, she advised me: "Watch yourself," but she meant it in a different way altogether. She wanted me to observe myself carefully, as if from a distance, so that I could develop a keener awareness of my actions in areas of my life I wanted to change.
I've been thinking lately about these two words, for reasons too complicated to address right here, right now.
But mostly, I keep coming back to the idea of observation, truly watching myself, and how important it is, and how frequently I don't do it. Watch yourself. Doesn't it seem like good advice, no matter what one is doing, working on, worried about?
I'm sure I could think of a half dozen ways I could tie this into writing. But I won't. I think it stands on its own. And sometimes, that's enough.