Louis Sullivan’s Kindergarten Chats: On Attention

Attention is the essence of our powers; it is that which draws other things towards us, it is that which, if we have lived with it, brings the experiences of our lives ready to our hand. If things make impression enough on you, you will not forget them; and thus, as you go through life, your store of experience becomes greater, richer, more and more available. But to this end you must cultivate attention–the art of seeing, the art of listening. You needn’t trouble about memory, that will take care of itself; but you must learn to live in the true sense. To pay attention is to live and to live is to pay attention.

When you accumulate, accumulate abundantly, absorb totalities, not fragments. Grasp the largeness of things, not petty isolated aspects. Lay hold upon the warm significance of realities, not merely cold currency passing from hand to hand. Seize upon the drift, the color, the intensity, the what-you-may-call-it of the moving, teeming life about you, not merely upon its broken definition, and follow, follow, follow every path, every trail that leads towards emotional and spiritual riches–paths hidden alike to the heedless and the over-sure–and then, when you give, give of your abundance: And this is to live.

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One Response to Louis Sullivan’s Kindergarten Chats: On Attention

  1. John Gillis says:

    Here we see two great aspects of Louis — the reveler in the wonder of being alive and the that means the wonder of being conscious and attentive; the poet who speaks beautifully about the emotional overtones of life.

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