In his book, “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner had two lovely paragraphs on attention.
“Attention’ is an underrated word. It doesn’t get the… well, the attention it deserves. We pay homage to love, and happiness, and, God knows, productivity, but rarely do we have anything good to say about attention. We’re too busy, I suspect. Yet our lives are empty and meaningless without attention.
My two-year-old daughter fusses at my feet as I type these words. What does she want? My love? Yes, in a way, but what she really wants is my attention. Pure, undiluted attention. Children are expert at recognizing counterfeit attention. Perhaps love and attention are really the same thing. One can’t exist without the other.”
Doing one thing at a time is said to be the essence of Zen. When we use the phrase “pay attention,” we inadvertently remind ourselves of this idea and the fact that our attention is probably our most valuable resource.
As with any such valuable resource, it is on us to spend it wisely and well. There aren’t many better gifts we can give ourselves in the new year.