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On Attention and Love

September 21, 2010

I wasn’t sure of what to write for today. Sometimes I have ideas ahead of time, sometimes I write about something that just happened and other times I stare at the screen for a while and then I remember how tired I am and all the other items on my list for today and I start to doze off.

Today was one of those days.

Until I saw a tweet by Karen Maezen Miller which pointed to this post by Lindsey which then made me realize what today’s post was going to be about.

Attention.

Lindsey writes, “What we pay attention to flourishes. Attention is love. It is, after all, the only true thing of value we have.”

Isn’t that true? As she goes on to say attention is time and how we spend our time is how we spend our days (and life, of course.) But the part that I focused on isn’t only that what we pay attention becomes our life, but also that what we give attention to flourishes. There are obvious things like plants, cooking, etc. where you can see the actual “flourished” outcome of attention. And then there are the things that take a lot of time to flourish so each bit of attention moves us a little forward and the regular progress is harder to see. For example, art, music or even math. Things that take a long time and a lot of practice. But what is practice? a recurring attention.

And then there are those things that we pour attention to and we might never see the outcome. Or we might never prove that our attention is directly related to that outcome. Things like friendships, relationships, children. There is no doubt that each of these things flourish with attention but the direct outcome of attention might be hard to see. But attention is what keeps all relationships going. The more you give, the more you’re rewarded.

Another thing Lindsey said that really stuck with me was “A critical task of our lives is to truly see those we love for who they are, even when that means accepting that there are mysteries inside of them that we will never understand. To release them from the cage of what we so desperately want them to be, so that they may flourish into who they are.” To me, this is the best kind of attention. The kind that doesn’t judge or expect anything in return. The kind that gives. The kind of mother, wife, or friend I try to be. Imagine if you had a friend who gave you the gift of truly seeing and truly accepting you. Wouldn’t that be the most amazing gift you ever received?

So, I hope that each of you spend a little more time today seeing where you’re spending your attention. And who you could see and love without judgement. And remember that attention is love. Thank you Karen and Lindsey for reminding me of that today. I needed to hear it again.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 9:54 am

    I’m so fascinated by the notion that that which we pay attention to grows, too … so when I focus on my insecurities, or the things I do badly, or being mad at my husband, I’m actually nourishing those things. Whereas those things without attention eventually shrivel up and die. Which is why some friendships don’t make it. Imagine (at least for me this was an a-ha) if I could make the things that bother me die and fade away by just not focusing on them?
    I’m trying!

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