Point of View: Paying Attention

He could read as fast — or faster — upside down and backward than you or I can read right-side up and forward

I remembered Tony Demmers as I tried this morning to read upside down and backward the headlines of The New York Times’s first section that Mary, as usual, was reading with avidity.

Even with more avidity than usual, for it’s hard for common, everyday, ordinary people these days to keep up with all the goings-on, from the horrific to the banal, which confront you in about equally mind-boggling portions.

You’ll want to know something about Tony Demmers. He was the one who put the lines of type in the galleys in the hot-type days, and he could read as fast — or faster — upside down and backward than you or I can read right-side up and forward.

I can do it a bit, though Tony was way out of my league. He read more right-side up and forward than I did too.

Anyway, I could make out enough this morning to gather that the investigation as to whether you-know-who as a private citizen was tweeting with an enemy government before he was, in fact, elected to office (long live the Logan Act of 1799) might, in the end, be so vexing as to prompt a missile exchange with North Korea — to divert us, if you will. Just a wild surmise. Always jumping to conclusions. Pay no attention.

Is reality any different from our dream world? Which is half of our lives really, or almost half of mine inasmuch as I tend toward narcolepsy. I can go 10 hours easy, more if pressed. Mary, on the other hand, is often sleep-deprived inasmuch as she pays more attention than I. In a movie we saw recently, “Lady Bird,” the nun — a good one in this case — said that to love and to pay attention were, she thought, the same thing. Mary pays more attention, she loves more, which is why, I think, she has trouble sleeping.

The liberal judge Harry Pregerson’s last words were that he was sorry he could no longer help people. Mary is like that. Her example is clear. We must connect. Not because we want an enemy government to tilt the election toward us in return for . . . (we’ll have to wait for the answer to that one), but because it is simply the right thing to do. 

Connectedness without the con. That is life to her as it should be lived. That is her truth, and it is beautiful. And it is why, when it’s so easy these days to be distracted, she pays attention.