Love can come in many forms. One of them is attention.
If parents love a child, they will pay attention to him or her. Does a man love a woman? How can he say he does if he will not give her his attention? And not just when he feels like doing so. He stays alert to her signals. Women do send signals.
How does a woman love a garden? She pays attention to it. She will probably visit it as often as she can. She may talk to it. “Good morning, snapdragons. You look simply marvelous!” She brings water and food. She appeals to her husband, “Harry, the cabbages are dying. If they do, so shall I!”
How can you tell if a person loves his/her work? He studies it.
And not just his specific job. He (or she) will tend to read about the industry or profession, and what’s going on throughout the field.
How does an author complete the writing of a long, difficult book? She must love it. She will pay attention to it. Each day she will review what she has written the day before. She ponders what is missing, where the holes and gaps are. She identifies the rough edges. Then she sands and polishes them. If she needs more information she goes out and finds it.
We often hear people say, “I love my country. I love democracy.”
Sure, sure. But how many of these patriots devote real attention to our democracy, our storied land? Will they study its history, traditions and beliefs? Will they stay aware of the nation’s problems, or the rights and wrongs of our leaders? Will these true believers love the USA by actually giving their attention to it?
“I love this city.” Well, maybe. Test that allegation by asking the person to vote in city elections and familiarize himself with how the city is run. Ask him or her for their time and attention to municipal affairs.
“Love is what you think about all day long.” If this is true, we all know people whose greatest love is food.
Others spend most of their days giving their attention, their minds to romance. Or variations of it. The stock market is a much-loved entity. Some folks pay more attention to the stock listings than they do to their families.
Go sit in a mall. Watch hundreds of people pass by. What if you stopped each of them and asked, “What do you pay attention to? What in life do you truly love?
What would their responses be?
“Buzz off, man,” “None of your business.” “One more word and I’m calling Security.”
I can’t say I’d blame them. Those are touchy, personal questions.
But maybe I’m wrong, too dogmatic. Perhaps love can exist without a lot of attention being present. After all, isn’t part of true love being able just to sit and relax with your partner, without concentrating on him or her?
There is much to be said for giving attention to the people we know, even it’s just a few seconds to say, “Good morning,” or “How’s your carburetor running?” or “ Has your bronchitis improved?”
Full disclosure: I’m a gross offender in not paying enough attention to people. In partial defense, many of us inattentive swine are guilty not of hauteur but of the fear we will be told “Disappear, dude!” Or even worse — being totally ignored.
President Trump’s critics watch him and say, “How did this man ever get elected?” Various opinions are heard. One of them is simple. “Trump got the attention of people, and held it. All the way to the voting booth.”
A big question the many Democratic contenders will have to answer is “Can one or two of us finally seize and keep voters’ attention long enough to oust this bloke?”
Stay tuned. Only 18 short months remain.
I thank my readers — all eight of you — for your attention to this column.