On attention

I have been profoundly privileged to have had a lot of people give me a lot of attention for as long as I remember. It started with being an only child and an only grandchild, but it has continued to this day, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, I feel like I never properly learned to give attention to other people. It’s not that I’m disinterested; I’m only too happy to listen to others talk about their lives for as long as they are willing. It’s just that I rarely remember to ask the kinds of leading questions that other people ask me. How old are your kids? What did you think of the show? What was your childhood like?

So I always feel a little guilty after spending time with someone who is particularly good at paying attention. Did I give them enough attention? Or was I just a sponge?

I’m so grateful to the people who have given me the gift of their attention over the years. You’ve made me feel special, worthwhile. You’ve made me want and strive to be a better person; to be someone worthy of that attention.

I only hope I can pay it back some day. Or at least pay it forward.

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