The World Requests Our Attention

I raised my hand to my cheek briefly, to brush away a tickle. My shocked and confused fingertips immediately impelled the elbow to bend again. Curious fingerpads scanned my face for assessment.

Grit 100 sandpaper.

I knew I couldn’t have aged so quickly in just a day. What in the world…?

I had just recently scoured our 100-year-old basement walls previously concealed by a washer and dryer. I was instructed to use bleach and a rag to scrub clean the white-painted foundation blocks. This was the last chance to do so before installing drywall for our new laundry room.

My fingertips were scraped raw from the scrubbing and bleach—more than I had suspected. The action left them extremely sensitive.

I was accustomed to the skin on my face feeling relatively smooth and the interplay of sensation as equal. My face could feel and sense my hand’s touch. My fingertips could feel and sense my face. The new sensation broke through the unrecognized expectation of that.

Was the skin on my face really this coarse? Of course, we might ask, what is the measure of coarse? Awareness was captured as the touch of my face on the fingertips, exclusively. The skin on my face appealed for a new effort of concentration—a kind of openness—for it to sense the touch of fingertip.

Quickly, without paying attention, we measure and evaluate any given situation. Nothing wrong with that. It is very handy to summarily assess situations so that we can navigate the day. If we were unable do this, we would need to figure everything out, over and over again.

But this kind of behavior can isolate us from the play and aliveness of interrelatedness. Does our mood, expectation, or the time of day affect our assessments? Do previous judgments reinforce our current expectations? If we are not aware of the thoroughness of relativity, our categories and expectations close off the opportunities that each encounter offers. With the dismissals that habit and routine encourage, it is more difficult to respond with tenderness and care. Awareness is the key.

A flexibility of response arises naturally when we bring curiosity and openness to a situation. Yes, we can rely on a loose set of helpful categories for initial guidance, but awareness is the response that every situation ask of us. The world needs our attention, which is no further than right here. 

Like a pebble tossed into the sea, our actions ripple into the universe without end. Let us act and respond with (as) awareness.

© 2015 Bev Forsman and Letters from Emptiness. If you share this material, please include direction to the original content. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “The World Requests Our Attention

  1. lee-michael register says:


    You have a real knack at using your experiences as poignant examples that elucidate wisdom—a real modern day Aesop. I think that you highlighted the two most important pieces of that wisdom in your article.

    I wondered if it wasn’t “impossible” to respond with care and tenderness if we are dismissing our experience because of the accompanying neglect that comes when we mechanically act out of routine and habit. Care and tenderness seem synonymous with awareness, or at least the three are always present in conjunction with each other.

    Whether we act out of care and tenderness, or act routinely and out of habit, both are quite human it seems to me, and appear inextricably wound together like a twining vine around the stalk of a host plant.

    Thanks for eliciting this response from me; your piece must have struck a chord…


    • Bev Forsman says:

      Hi Lee,

      I agree with you on the impossibility. I’m going to leave the post as-is though, since your comment won’t make sense without the original language. Touche’. Thanks for reading.



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