Attention is the most basic commodity of human existence. Basic questions: If no one pays attention to something, what good is it? Who’s giving attention to whom? Because attention is valuable, who’s willing to pay for it? When you get old, another question arises–you know what’s coming, right?—Who pays attention to old people?
You’ve had this happen, I’m sure: You say or do something and it feels like no one noticed. Worse yet, others pretend to give you attention but their subtle actions say the opposite. Perhaps the worst: Inattention is all you get, no matter what you do and no matter who’s around. You find yourself wondering what it would take for anyone to listen to you, to value your thoughts, to act on your recommendation, to value you as wise.
If this keeps happening, eventually you might feel like a discarded piece of the newspaper. You could start to question your skills, your thoughts, maybe even your worth. You could wonder whether you have any purpose in life.
What to do about this? A secret you may already know: Pay attention to those who seem not to regard you. Listen well, ask good—hard, personal—questions, pay compliments where they are deserved, live gratefully. Look people in the eye—the surest way we know we’re being deemed worthy of attention. Because God pays attention to you—it’s true!—there’s the possibility that someone out there eventually realizes what a treasure you are for their lives, what a strangely interesting person you, how your life stories might hold valuable lessons for them.
Remember that people pay attention to what’s different, what breaks patterns, what’s not ordinary. So think about this possible truth: Precisely because you are old, you may be odd, by God!
You’re attention-worthy after all!