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Like many of the people I know, my life is excessively busy. I am always talking about how I don’t have time for things. I have a long list of things to do, emails to respond to, people to call back, bills to pay, blogs to read and so forth. I have to “make time” to take care of myself – to exercise, to meditate, to eat right. Because I am so overwhelmed, I start to protect my time. I tell myself to say no to opportunities that come along. I make sure that I maintain boundaries. I barely have time to keep up with the friends and family that I currently have that I wonder how I could possibly have room for new people in my life. And this is how I become closed off to experiences, people, stories…
Listening to some of the stories reminds me of my father. My father passed away a year and half ago at the age of 82. He lived a long and very interesting life. Now, I must say, my dad was a talker. And growing up around someone who likes to talk, I learned to tune my dad out. I didn’t always take the time to listen. I was too busy focusing on my own thoughts, problems, etc… to hear about whatever my dad had to say. But thankfully, some of the time, I did take the time to put my own thoughts aside to listen to his stories, to hear about his life, because now when I think of him, I think about the stories he told us. I find that I pass along and retell his stories to others. And when I do, I find something new and amazing and powerful in what used to be just everyday conversation.
Everyday conversations are what I miss out on when I get so sucked into my busy life. I miss the unplanned moments (and the stories that result) with my friends, my family, or even with strangers on the street or waiting in line. But the more I practice mindfulness and meditation, and the more I think about what I could be missing out on, I find myself taking the time to stop, be patience, be in the moment, and listen to what others are saying.