Have you ever been talking to someone and all you could think about was something entirely different? I have. It feels awful. It's like saying, "You are only a little important right now. I have something much bigger on my plate". This is something I have been working a lot on over the past couple of years. It takes discipline to engage. To really engage. To look someone in the eye and show them that you are listening. I would venture to say that it is more difficult than ever. We have our to-do lists, notifications, work, kids, unfinished projects, debt, relationship issues, and our upcoming vacation to plan. We are busier than ever yet becoming less and less connected to real people.
We all have plenty of situations every day that call us to focus in. To engage. It could be with your boss or your child. Maybe your grandmother calling or a friend. Perhaps it is an acquaintance at a party when you'd really rather be with your close friends. Whomever it is, our mere presence isn't enough. It is our eyes that they need. Our facial gestures responding to them and of course, our ears. We need to hear the person we are with. But instead, too often we are kind of listening. Halfway listening. Just enough to catch the gist of what they are saying and taking the first opportunity to take our exit.
What if we stopped and said to ourselves, "This is where I am supposed to be right now so I will engage". It may not feel like you are supposed to be there, but perhaps you are. Sometimes we get so busy that we try to glide through our real conversations so we can check our e-mail or our online accounts. We look up every once and a while at our kids sports activities to give the impression that we are interested. We give a couple of nods to the person at the checkout counter while we are browsing our list of needed items for our dinner party. What if we changed that just for today. What if we decided to be fully present wherever we are. At the PTA meeting, at the doctor's office, at dinner with our spouse. Even when our youngest child says, "Look mom!" for the 100th time that day.
As I have been attempting to be more present over the last couple of years, I have noticed some wonderful and amazing things happening. I caught the eye of one of my children when they looked my way with a feeling of pride in their Karate Class. I was able to comfort one of our Seniors with our Meals On Wheels as she told me that her husband of 63 years had passed away the night before. And, as I held the hand of my mom the night she died, I remember thinking, "Pay attention. Don't let all the thoughts of grief and worry keep your mind away. Feel her hand. Feel how soft it is. This is the hand that you have held for over 40 years." I remember breathing deep in that moment--making my brain take hold of this moment so it wouldn't ever leave me. She passed away later that night. I am so thankful for that memory. I can still feel the warmth of her hand today and it comforts me.
I know I have missed moments when I haven't been present. But, with each passing day, I desire to feel more moments. To live them. To breathe them. To take time with them. To extend my eyes, my ears and my heart to the one who is across from me. I never know when that person may really need me...or when I might really need that moment with that person.