Attention is Love

I went to bed with pain in my neck and woke up with stiff joints in every quadrant. It seems harder to complete a gratitude list when discomfort is flaring. But maybe that should actually be at the top of my list. 

2020  has been full of gifts. Not the “rip-open-the-package” kind of gift that reveals something you had coveted. No, far from that. The gift of this year has been in the keen awareness of my life settling into itself. Pain and all. 

With all of the “busyness” I had planned for this year, I hadn’t left any room for discovery. I had lists and a schedule. I had an idea what I was in need of, without recognizing the deeper need, to simply tend to my own little garden of the heart. I suppose it’s not unlike buying the shears to tend the anticipated growth of a plant, but forgetting, to not just water the plant, but occasionally give it the kind of good soak that invigorates those roots. 

2020 has been my water can. 

Here are a couple notes about gratitude that I have taken along the way.  It’s not a list so much as  a musing of what it means to me to have true thanks. 

1) Sometimes gratitude feels like a big box of nothingness. I mean, I’m really not grateful for “things” so much as I am grateful for the act that inspired the giving. I am paying attention to what it means to be gifted with attention from others. 

2) What if gratitude isn’t an “act” at all ? What if gratitude is a practice. And what if that practice has little to do with making ME better and everything to do with making the world better ? 

That said: I offer these thanks:

Thank you to those who have generously gifted me your attention. I have sort of “psychically” brought you closer into my heart. One of my very favorite people has written that “attention is love”. And so it is. 

Thank you, too, to those who are incapable of generously giving attention. I have learned much from you over the years too. Pablo Neruda wrote: “Love is so short, forgetting is so long”. I wonder if it has to be that way ?  Maybe we can let those fleeting feelings come in through the front door and then leave through the open door in the back. It’s a visual that comes to me often. I am grateful for what I have learned about the impermanent nature of things. 

I am grateful for hot baths and skylights. Grateful for all of the ways Kelly shows her love for me. Grateful to my family and friends for virtual embraces and an effort to stay connected. Grateful for sunrise and boardwalks and reflections in the still water. Grateful for the birds and all living things that show up for me every day. Grateful to those who check in and write letters and send cards. Grateful for the text that comes in a low moment, or an accidental call that rekindles a connection. 

I’m grateful for my sobriety every day. 

Today I’m thankful, too, for those who read this blog and who take the time to share their thoughts. 

I want to link this post below from several months ago because, it too, is full of gratitude. This practice of giving thanks is a pretty solid foundation for this very moment. Stay safe. Stay grateful. Stay attentive to what matters because it is the most genuine expression of love. And while you can talk too much and eat too much and think too much, you can never love too much. 

Where I’m From