As I have said before in this space, one of the clarion calls of my existence is the phrase: pay attention. Notice it is not written Pay Attention! nor Pay Attention! or even Pay Attention!!! I simply and quietly attempt in my life to attend to those thoughts, words and actions that present themselves to me during the course of my day. In particular, I try very hard to practice close attention when I am speaking with someone I like, love and/or treasure.

I do admit that some part of this attending fervor of mine is a learned behavior from my years of training as a psychologist. But clinical techniques are really not necessary in the ordinary course of going about one's life; what is required is a desire and a commitment to really paying attention to what is presented in hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and other.

One of my current writing projects is thematically all about this topic, the plot and story build on attending to the tiniest of motes of action and information that pass before the eyes, ears and heart of my protagonist. Think of the word "attend" not in the sense of attending a performance but of attending to a person. Being in service to them, to look after, to minister to. The exact oppose of ignoring or dismissing. This is the quality I am speaking of and fostering moment-to-moment in my interaction with others.

Which brings me to an observation about the variety of my acquaintances. Once again I refer to my recently ended journey on which I saw and interacted with so many friends both old and new. Now I am back in the Bay Area and once again in the midst of my academic cohorts. I noticed in my travels that while my friends were busy with their full and active lives, they had time or we could make time for intense, meaningful, in-depth conversation and friendship. If I attended to them, they were able to reciprocate, even if generally speaking such interactions were not the norm in their everyday life.

Sure most of the human contacts in my life have college educations. There are many big brains outside of my academic tribe and many more big hearts. What surprises me then, is that within the large cerebrum, fully lettered gaggle of friends there are several examples of gross non-attending. I don't just mean the stereotypical absent-minded professor. I mean fully functioning, highly educated, well-meaning friends, who just don't have a clue. They seem to talk the talk and grok the written word, but in action they simply fail. They either will not or cannot pay attention to what so many of us find important. Ideas and feelings they give lip service to, seem not to actually be of any significance in the day-to-day conduct of our friendship.

What I feel about these friendships is sadness. What I hope to communicate to them is simply nothing because I know none of these individuals will ever read this blog. To those who do, let's have lunch, I have something wonderful to tell you.