via google
via google

I know, your mother told you not to. But now you’re a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You’re sooo missing out!

Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers — two of the many I meet daily. Two of the many I almost always talk to (much to the eye-rolling of my beloved!). One of yesterday’s visits was at the place where I get my nails done (I can NOT go to my niece’s shower w/ ratty nails!). A lovely woman several years older than I am had driven in from McAlester (about 3 hours from Tulsa) to celebrate her big birthday. She’s 3 years into her breast cancer survivorship, and glad to be alive. In for a facial & makeover, she & I talked as we waited.

She has a son & daughter — the son lives near his parents. Her husband is recovering from a heart attack/ stint operation several years ago, and we discussed the rôle of caregivers. Her insights were helpful, as I work through my beloved’s fall, and now the birth of a grandchild w/ some challenges. It wasn’t only her giving to me, I hope, though: I listened. And (I hope she could tell) I learned.

The other was with a new employee at the salon where I was waiting. We chatted about the demise of a small restaurant nearby, and exchanged the currency humans have tendered for millennia: ‘gossip.’ Why the restaurant closed, the lack of people skills on the part of the otherwise immensely talented chef. And connected, word by shared word.

via google
via google

Listening (and learning) are grossly neglected in today’s hectic culture. Whatever you worry you don’t offer, you have ears. You have a face that can show you’re listening, that you care. How important that is! And if you share a bit of your life, with the stranger who shares his or hers? That’s the connection between us all made manifest. I breathe in, you breathe out. I talk, you hear. You talk, I hear. And BAM! We’re obviously connected, even though we were connected by so many other tenuous threads before we ever met.

I know — it sounds both hoodoo-ey and roll-your-eyes disingenuous. But trust me: it’s also impeccable Buddhism. The ability to offer your listening human heart to a stranger? Who may just need a touch on the arm, a smile, a moment of your attention? Wow — how often have each of us been touched by just those infinitely precious gifts?

So tomorrow? I’m going to sit for at least 5 minutes w/ the woman married to my niece’s husband’s co-worker, who is driving in w/ her pre-schooler to attend the shower. She will know no one but my niece. And soon, I hope, me. After all, it’s all about strangers…and connection…and beginner’s heart.


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