A number of years ago, I went to a LGBT meeting in Asheville. The topic of discussion was the possibility of a new LGBT center.
I listened to all the discussion, nice earnest discussion about benefits and challenges. It was all feel-good and sincere.
At the end of the meeting, I stood to ask two questions.
Number one was “How many of you think it would be good to have an LGBT drop-in center in the area?”
The majority of people raised their hands. They mostly thought it would be a good thing to have.
Number two was “How many of you think that an LGBT drop-in center is the number one priority to work for in this area?”
Nobody raised their hand. Nobody.
“Well, I predict that there won’t be a LGBT center anytime soon,” I said. “Unless a few people think this is the most important priority and are willing to work to lead the effort, it’s probably just not going to happen.”
People shook thier heads in agreement.
In the end, life isn’t about what would be nice to have. Life is about what we give priority to, what we will work to make happen.
In an information economy, attention is the new currency, someone said.
I know that the people around me want to help, want things to be better.
But I also know that their attention is consumed, that many things fall down so low in the priority list that they are just not going to happen.
My brother, my sister, my parents, well, they just don’t have the attention to pay. They put their priorites elsewhere, even as I put my priority on them (which, ironically, gives them more attention to pay to other things.)
I have often said that the key to a great relationship is that at some point, you are the most important person in the other person’s life. Maybe that’s rare — a dinner date once a month, say — or maybe that happens in almost every moment, as a mother has to pay attention to a young child, but what we all crave is being the center of someone else’s attention, being a priority at some point in someone else’s life.
Rachel has said that she finally figured out that Callan wants to be heard, wants attention and bandwidth to be paid to her.
But I don’t get it much. I most often fall into the “too hard” basket.
Now, I do understand, don’t think that I don’t.
People have other priorities and attention is a scarce & valuable commodity.
But I do suffocate with out it, eh?