I sometimes got a little bored in high school. I liked the teachers, but it seemed like they repeated themselves a lot. Once this repetition began I saw no harm in picking up a novel and doing a little reading until I gleaned that they had moved on to a new subject. I was mildly mortified during a parent-teacher meeting when my Algebra II instructor told my mom, “He’s a good kid. I see him sitting there reading someone else’s book during my class – but he’s a good kid.”
Strange as it sounds, I realized I had been operating with the vague idea that if I took my attention away from someone that person could no longer see me, as if I literally disappeared into my book. Turns out, I was still visible. Turns out, other people were actually as interested in my attention as they were in what I said or did.
Why this surprised me, I don’t know, because I was certainly interested in other people’s attention. I fact, other people’s attention was their most interesting commodity. It was one thing to see or hear a person from a distance, but when that person directed their attention at me, that’s when I met them, that’s when I felt the heat from their unique light.
It is easy to take our own attention for granted, to forget about the light we give as we are drawn to the light we receive. I suppose it is the artist in me that still believes that I will disappear when my spotlight darkens. It is easy to forget that we are invited to this stage not to be seen, but to offer what we see.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.