attention in "bare attention" seems to be more of "manasikāra" rather than sati. manasikāra (attention) is an indispensible factor of any cognition present in every state of consciousness. Suttas do sometimes define sati as "memory" and IMHO it is a memory, non-forgetfulness of Dhamma (kāya, vedanā, citta, Triple characteristic, DO).
This is why perhaps while attention in and of itself is ethically neutral, sati is always wholesome (functional for arahants). Sati arises when there are causes and conditions for its arising, performs its function and ceases as all conscious states do.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."