Life through a different lens
Do I have to listen to this? What is it she's telling me? What the hell did that politician say?
Unless the content is compelling, the speaker demonstrative and engaging, I find concentrating on another's story hard. But that was yesterday. Today I will pay attention. I will listen carefully about the colour, power and steering of his new car. I will listen as he talks about his new business acquaintance. When she next tells me about her neighbour's baking prowess, I will show unfeigned interest.
I will focus my thoughts and not allow them to wander undirected towards shopping lists, parenting anxieties and children's safety, and to the self-pity I feel about not enjoying the moment. The moment steeped in another's dull story. No more nor less dull than mine. But not mine, nevertheless.
It's a real talent to make everybody you meet feel special, and it's one my grandmother had. She liked people. Everybody. Anybody. She was interested in the owner of the corner cafe. She liked to keep up to date on his family's wellbeing. Her last job was as a shop attendant where she sat all day supposedly selling paint, but instead she spent her days listening to her customers' stories, finding the detail of their lives fascinating. She was loved for this engagement.
So listening to a long story about a new investment last week, I felt ashamed as I tried to pay attention. Instead of following what may or may not have been an interesting story, I paid attention instead to where my mind was going. The previous night's crazy dinner. Next weekend's family gathering. Arranging play dates. Nothing that could not have waited until the end of the tale. But they didn't wait and I became no wiser about the investment. And I was ashamed of myself for not paying attention. I could ask no questions.
I could only say, rather horrifyingly: "How interesting."
I should really do better. I need to be present.
I need to show that I care. That I value another's life as I do my own. I need to show that another's shopping list is as interesting as my own.