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…

I was revisiting a website recently called StoryCorp that is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is “to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.” They record people’s stories which are then stored in the Library of Congress as part of America’s oral history. You can also listen to some of the stories here on their website.
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.
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