We only get so many coins of attention; we cannot spend them on everything and hope to end up with anything substantial. We need to go on an attention budget.
Attention is precious; scarcity makes it so. Spend it carefully on what matters most.
Everywhere we turn people want it, demand it, beg for it, compete for it. In the attention economy, there is a limited supply but endless demand.
Today: 5 phone solicitations for blood, money, ideas, money, answers to questions; 4 signature gatherers on different corners between my home and the Post Office; 5 homeless people, one with a guitar, all asking asking asking. Of course there was more: junk mail, commercials.
I gave my attention to my wife over dinner, my daughter dancing this afternoon in the Mission, my sons, especially the one who is quickly moving beyond my sight but never my attention. He is joining the Marines, who are, of course, all about attention. I gave my attention to stones in my garden, flowers, the words of Chinua Achebe, the psalms, and my mother, who called. When your mother calls you pay attention: Yes, mother!
We say: you are what you eat. I say: You are what you pay attention to, what you listen to, what you watch, what you read, what you close your eyes and think about in the dark cathedral of your skull.