On Paying Attention
Recently I picked up Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life for the first time, and I ended up returning the library book and buying my own copy to underline and dog-ear and keep on the shelf for years of encouragement and reference. It's a book about writing, but it's really a book about paying attention, which isn't quite what I expected. She talks at length about the role of great writers, which is to tell you something true about the world or human existence by capturing the essence of it (or a scene or character or setting or experience) through details. And writing details requires a gift for collecting details, which Anne would tell you comes from paying attention. This got me thinking: what would happen if all of us, writers and non-writers alike, started paying better attention?