Last weekend my son and I visited our good friends Debbie and John at their beautiful home in Estes Park. After we hauled all of our stuff to their guestroom and let our dog Maddie sniff every inch of their house including their dog Jake, we settled into profound relaxation as we made ourselves right at home. Later that evening after devouring the terrific dinner they had prepared for us, we lingered at the table and talked. I love that time, don’t you? Is there anything better than sipping the last of the wine, talking with good friends, and relishing simple companionship and good conversation?
Debbie started to tell us an interesting story about watching a live show with knights in full armor that rode horses and participated in a jousting match. I wish I could remember where they saw the show, but I can’t. Are you wondering if early Alzheimer’s has already set in? No, my friends, the reason I can’t remember many details about Debbie’s story is because while she was talking, I was only half-listening. I was busy thinking about my reply.
When Debbie paused, I told her that we, too, had once attended a live jousting match. It was when we were in Anaheim two years ago, when we’d taken that spring break trip to Disneyland. We’d gone to a huge place called Medieval Times, where we had front row seats for the match. And oh, the best part of all was that they served a dinner in which you ate everything with your hands, real medieval-style. Even the soup was served in handled pewter bowls, I explained, so that you could drink it without a spoon! After I had shared every fascinating detail about our live jousting match, we moved on to a new subject.
Later when I thought about our conversation, I was filled with regret over my maddening tendency to be in a hurry to talk – especially when a subject comes up that I CAN CONTRIBUTE TO, or even better, I CAN MAYBE EVEN TOP!
I wish I would have given my dear friend my full attention and really listened to her story. I wish I would have asked her some questions about the match. Why were they there, and who else did they go with? Did everyone enjoy it? Was it interesting to get that glimpse into a centuries-old sport? Did she find it exciting? Did they take pictures?
Once she had taken as much time as she needed to tell me the anecdote in her own way, I wish I’d resisted the urge to share my similar tale. Next time, I hope I can be a better listener.
I want to be a friend who gives others the gift of being truly present.
I want to be someone who listens with my whole heart.
I want to talk less.
I want to hear more.