Giraffes check me out as I check them out.
Attention is much older than the genus Homo but we have turned it into a liberating power. Attention began as a reflex action. Something unexpected happens—there is a sudden noise, bright color, disgusting scent, hard poke—and an animal focuses on it, becomes aware of it. I was once on a walk in Zambia and far away, maybe a quarter of a mile distant, viewed from one ridge to another, a giraffe came out of a clearing and began walking down a slope toward water. It was the first time I ever saw a giraffe before it saw me. One of the people I was with whispered, "Look," and the giraffe heard the word. It stopped and stared straight at us. Then it turned and retreated back into the woodlands. There you have the classic animal use of attention: focus, awareness, action. This behavior is millions of years old and allows animals to include some adaptability in their actions. Animals with attention have an either/or switch in their system. They can focus, become aware and act in either of a couple of ways. They are not bugs accidentally orbiting a light bulb until either they drop in exhaustion or the light goes off.