ATTENTION

“Aussie, come!”

“When?”

“Now. Aussie. For heaven’s sake, Aussie, when I say Come, you come!”

“I did come, only via Vermont.”

“You know, Auss, the world isn’t paying attention to me like it used to.“

“Of course not, you’re old!”

“Once, people paid more attention. They did what I asked them to do. You did what I asked you to do.”

“Never!”

“Ok, you didn’t, but many did. Now, it’s like nobody cares.”

“I told you, it’s because you’re old. Who cares what anybody old wants?”

“I pay attention to you, Senora.”

“The illegal Chihuahua has spoken! You don’t count, Illegal. That’s why she works with illegal families, they’re the only ones that pay attention to her.”

“Aussie, that’s a terrible thing to say.”

Unruffled, Aussie runs off for another circuit of Vermont.

There are times when the world just doesn’t seem to give a damn, I think to myself. It doesn’t matter what you want, what you feel, what you think. Nobody seems to give a hoot, aside from an illegal Chihuahua.

I look back and marvel at how many ambitions and wants I used to have, coupled with very little patience when they weren’t fulfilled right away (usually the case). So much arrogant confidence that if I tried hard enough or worked hard enough, the world would respond; it would pay attention.

I got into a practice that was all about paying attention, only I was the one who had to do it. To my great surprise, just as I was beginning to realize that the world owed me bupkis, I discovered that there was something that was listening after all. It wasn’t personal or identifiable. And it had been there all the time, only I never noticed because all my life I’d been so focused on complaining that nobody was listening to me. I squandered ten lifetimes’ worth of indignation on that, and when it finally ended, I noticed that something was, indeed, paying attention in a basic, impersonal way.

Had to let go of lots of background noise and all kinds of clever manipulations on how to get a bigger megaphone. There was no need for any of that, only who knew? Who knew that this late in the game, I’d get into a new relationship, and that I’d find attention everywhere I went (except for Aussie, of course, who decided to climb Mt. Washington)?

The morning after my housemate had her terrible accident, when someone driving “under the influence,” as we say it, smashed into her car head-on, I found her in the ER waiting for surgery. I sat on a chair by the bed. She was skin-and-bones, ashen, in lots of pain. We talked just a little, and she would doze off till pain woke her up.

Once she mumbled, “Eve, why don’t you go home? They’ll come get me when they’re ready, you don’t have to just sit there.”

“I’m a meditator, Lori,” I told her. “I like just sitting there.”

Four hours later, they came to get her ready for surgery and I went home.

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