Attention is the doorway
We turn our eyes and hearts and ears to three short poems (and a surprise). We notice what this does for our heart. We hope it's something good.
I’ve been thinking a lot about attention. How precious it is. How powerful. How easy it is to be careless with.
Every Sunday my horrible little phone tells me how much attention I’ve given it that week. Every Sunday I am struck by what else I may have done with some of that time:
I might have told my small (tiny) blind deaf dog Mimsy—who is somewhere near 16 years old by now, whose heart is too big for her body, who’s got a “touch of dementia,” who can always and quickly find me exactly where I am and crawl into my arms despite or because of everything—how lucky I am to know her.
I might have made tortillas from scratch and left some on Sarah’s stoop.
I might have made more room to listen. I might have taken more time to speak, to say more clearly, brightly, surely: this is what I need today, and can you help me find it?
I might have spent six more deep big breaths standing on my head, which I’m pleased to report I have become more adept at since I committed to doing yoga every day for 108 days straight. (Today is day 77.)
I might have read ten to one hundred poems. Even written maybe one. Maybe.
Today let’s read at least these three.
Sean Thomas Dougherty
Because right now there is someone
out there with
a wound in the exact shape
of your words.
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?
they are stones in the water
These skeletal lines
they are desperate arms for my longing and love.
I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
whoever you are
whoever I may become.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Poems ask us to pay attention. To notice what they’re up to. The way a poem falls down a page can be as wise as the words themselves. It requires time and attention on either end—loving creation and thoughtful consumption.
Attention, Robin Wall Kimmerer thrills us, “is the doorway to gratitude, wonder and reciprocity.” I read this and I wonder what have I paid attention to this week? Has it led me toward gratitude? Has it offered me wonder, comfort, love? Did it make me more me than before?
I look back on this week and think yes, my god yes, including even the time I spent on my phone. Facetiming with Belinda who lives in Spain to exchange unabashed, unafraid words of love and affirmation. My mother against a backdrop of desert sky and mountains, beaming in the family chat. Full moon blessings sent to my soulfriend Kris on the occasion of their birthday, which you should know is right now, today—their birthday, I mean, and the full glorious moon. Each one of these interactions fed me generously, as did every breath I had to focus on, every moment with Mimsy in my arms, every minute I spent playing with poems and reading them aloud, for you, for me, for anyone who’s ever cared to listen—and I am grateful for it all.
Whatever it is that earns your attention in the days ahead, however you spend your time, I hope you see and feel and hear the love you pour into your life echoed back to you. I hope that what you feed feeds you, and gives you what you need.
If you’d like an experiment or inspiration, I invite you to join me this coming month in a daily movement practice (whatever that may look like for you). Or maybe you’d like to come with me in an attempt to write a poem or paragraph or page a day for every day in April. You can respond right to this email (if you’re reading this in your inbox) or drop a note below. No pressure. Your time and attention is precious.
Thank you for sharing some with me.
Stay safe. Stay soft and hydrated.