There is generosity in giving attention.


Me, trying to write a blog post…

covered in cats.

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” French philosopher Simone Adolphine Weil

I have trouble focusing on one thing, one goal, at a time. I think I’ve mentioned this before (no, really Molly?), so it’s no surprise that I often have multiple balls in the air at the same time. I can be a very good multi-tasker and my day job demands that of me, as I often have to deal with more than one emergency or time-sensitive thing at the same time. I was speaking with my husband on the phone today and mentioned that I was writing an email as I was talking to him. I could almost hear him shaking his head at the thought of typing something while talking to him. Also, look at that picture. Who deserves attention- my blog post or my cute kitties? Sometimes, it’s hard to prioritize, so here I am covered in cats while trying to finish my blog post.

Am I a freak of nature? No, I don’t think so. I’ve seen others do the same thing- talking on the phone while working on their computers. Working on a project while watching television. Even listening to music while working on something can be a form of multi-tasking. And sometimes, it doesn't mean I get two things done at once. It sometimes means it takes twice as long for me to finish something. In fact, I’d bet that’s true for most things I multi-task on.

So, because, as Simone Weil says, attention is a form of generosity, I’m encouraging myself this month to be mindful of what I pay attention to. What am I giving myself to? Is it my phone, and social media? Am I giving people around me positive or negative attention? Am I paying attention to my work, or my students, or my teacher? What is my attention giving to the world around me?

I hope that by bringing consciousness to my attention and where it is, I’ll begin to become aware of what I am giving my time and energy to, a precious resource. And, sometimes, it’s ok to multi-task. I don’t think it’s wrong to cuddle a cat while writing a blog- in fact, my kitties can be in inspiration to take it easy, and to remember to not take life seriously all the time and give my attention to things like cat cuddles and playtime. Sometimes, that is necessary too!

Molly Stoltz