Paying attention

Like many people, I’ve been caught up over the last week in the Boston marathon explosions and all the emotions they inspire. So many people have written eloquently about what happened, about the marathon and Boston. I have nothing of consequence to add, except perhaps to mention a couple of links that have meant a lot to me: “Messing with the Wrong City” by Dennis Lehane in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/opinion/messing-with-the-wrong-city.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0, and runner Dan Mungerrun’s post at http://mungerruns.blogspot.com/2013/04/in-praise-of-boston.html.

There is one small yet not at small all thing I’d like to examine briefly. It hasn’t anything directly to do with Boston.

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Watching the interfaith service on television today, I was struck by Yo Yo Ma playing in that intense concentrated way he has. It doesn’t matter whether the music is complex or simple, whether the concert is a celebration or an occasion for grief. He is always there entirely, paying attention. It reminded me of a recent post by painter Deborah Barlow in her wonderful blog, Slow Muse. Her starting place was a quotation from Susan Sontag.

Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.

That’s what Yo Yo Ma always does. I’ve never been a runner, but I suspect it’s what runners do too.

Maybe it has everything to do with Boston. Maybe it’s what Boston is doing.

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