The Gift of Attentiveness

ATTENTIVENESS: open with care.

Leave this gift securely wrapped for those rarest of moments when we are prepared to allow another’s reality to be more important than our own.

Deep attention is one of the most precious treasures we can give to someone. Looking and listening with respect, even reverence, in unconditional acceptance and with warmth and gentleness, is the most deeply humanizing activity in which we can invest ourselves.  

We are social creatures. We exist only in relation to others. We glean from the attention and affection of those around us our sense of belonging, self-worth  and inner beauty.

This need for affirmation accompanies us at birth. The adulation, the wonder, the amazement, the smiles, the tickles under the chin, the coo-cooing - these are not irrelevant, thoughtless, time-wasting gestures. They are building a bridge between the vulnerable, malleable psyche of a new-born baby and the wild world of hard-knocks that awaits.

From that formative experience at our mother’ breast onward, we infuse each day with the hope that we will be revisited by this primal affirmation and assurance of our being - that we belong, that we are loved.

Attentiveness is at the heart tango.

Tango is one of the places that we visit on this search. Men and women are given space and permission to practice being responsive and sensitive to each other. Eyes meeting, an inviting smile, extending one’s hand, settling into a warm and supporting embrace - all of these seemingly small or routine gestures reconnect us with our childhood longing to be adored.

The call to be attentive continues throughout the dance as we remain focused on the needs of our partner. We respond to her mood, her shift of weight, her responsiveness to the lead, her sense of rhythm and timing.

I love surprises, the little flourishes that are an expression of the inner dance of my partner. It is very limiting if I lead with the expectation that my partner will follow in a prescribed way. Rather, I extend an invitation, create an opportunity for my partner to invest her personal creativity in the space allowed. In the exchange, I am nourished with a deep sense of affirmation by how attentive and devoted she has been to our dance.