What Did You Say?

What? I’m sorry, I didn’t get that? Pardon? Excuse me? Huh? have you ever used one of these phrases in reply to another? You know when you are supposed to be listening? We all have from time to time. It is so easy to get distracted these days, between looking at our phones or tablets, or allowing the noises around us to distract our listening. Sometimes it is just that we are so busy, so rushed, so hurried, that we simply do not focus on the speaker. We all seem to be so preoccupied these days, in these days since the world started waking up from its pandemic slumber. We had been forced by the pandemic to slow down, stay home, work from home, teach our children from home, and we were force to stop and contemplate our lives. And listen.

At least that was my experience. My husband was shut down at his work and was able to spend time with me. As a student and writer, I am often home alone, working by myself, with just the dog and cat for company, so I enjoyed the pandemic shutdown. My husband and I had great conversations over breakfast, we enjoyed morning walks in our neighborhood, and tackling home improvement projects together. Life was good. And then everything started back up again this year, and now I barely see my neighbors, the walks have given way to keeping up with schedules. Traffic has become hectic again, and people are stressed out and angry. We as a society have seem to have forgotten our vows made during our pandemic pause to slow down and enjoy life and the people in our lives.

Recently, I had the opportunity- finally– to visit some older family members. And what has struck me is how important enjoying a good visit can be. Slowing down, listening to the stories from the past, trying to understand who my family really was, and where there had really come from. We miss so much when we fail to slow down and listen to others.

As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate more the struggles endured by my family of origin. I have learned of their incredible perseverance, despite the difficulties. I have always enjoyed listening to their stories, but in particular, as I too have faced difficulties in life, I can understand what they went through. As we get older we do tend to learn and respect our families more. I look back on my life and often I feel regret for my own failure to listen to them in the past. I was too busy with raising my own children, to really listen to their stories of how they raised my brothers and I or how my grandparents raised them. I was preoccupied with life. I was looking forward to the destination, instead enjoying the journey. Let us remember to slow down, enjoy this journey of life, taking time to be present and listen to those around us. – God Bless, Nancy