Fully Present

I try. I really do. I try to be fully present in conversations.

I try to lock on to the person talking. I try to listen to each word. I try to respect my conversation partner. I try to deeply listen.

I try, and often I do.

But there was this conversation I was in a couple of weeks ago when, try as I might, I was not fully present. And all of a sudden I had this startling realization that I was in the middle of a conversation and I was not focused.

Have you ever had that feeling?

I was disappointed in myself. I felt as though I had disrespected my conversation partner.

It has been a couple of weeks and I still remember. I don’t want to forget the feeling.

I am going to keep trying. I’m not going to give up on myself.

What did you say?

I was reading in the living room when I heard my wife from the kitchen excitedly saying, “The whisk is one of my favorite kitchen tools.”

I put my book down and asked her to repeat what she had said, just to make sure I heard her correctly.

Yep.

So now I am sitting there, book in my lap, pondering, “People have favorite kitchen tools?”

And after a minute or so I am thinking, “My wife has a favorite kitchen tool, and it’s the whisk?”

And finally, “It took me nearly 40 years of sharing life with this woman to learn this about her?”

This weekend we celebrate 40 years of marriage and I gotta tell you, I love it everytime I learn something new about her.

A time for silence

About six weeks ago I found myself in a conversation that drifted into a topic that made me a bit uncomfortable.

I listened carefully and at one point thought I was going to have to respond, or more accurately, push back. But just as I was preparing to make my case, I had a strong gut feeling that I should remain quiet.

And that is what I did.

One day last week it became clear that staying quiet was exactly what I needed to do.

There is a time to speak out, no doubt; but there is also a time for silence.

I’m thankful I got it right, at least this time.

Let Them Fly!

Have you ever had someone say an encouraging word to you at just the right moment? Chances are, that person had no idea how timely their word of encouragement was going to be. They just spoke it when they had opportunity and you were blessed. So don’t wait around for the perfect time to speak words of encouragement. Whenever you have a chance, just let them fly!

Love in the Details

Lourene and I settled into a booth at a Denver restaurant eager to relax, converse, and check out yet another find from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. By the way, if you are looking for a good restaurant to try, take a look at the places Fieri’s show has been. But enough of that, let’s get back to the booth.

I have learned that I am easily distracted when at a restaurant. I love people-watching, so if I want to be fully present with my wife it is helpful if I sit where I will have the fewest people in my line of sight. I also enjoy sports-highlight watching, so I try to sit where the television is least likely to distract me.

From past experience it seemed I had chosen a perfect seat to allow me to be focused on my sweet wife. I carefully chose a seat where my back was to the television. In front of me was a perfect view of a wall, the whole wall, and nothing but the wall. Hey, I even left my smart phone in the car to eliminate distractions.

So I slid into the booth that night pretty confident that I was going to get the attentive husband award. But even before the server had brought us our water, I became distracted by the conversation coming from the booth behind me. Yes, I heard them talking. Yes, I was listening.

Now let me try to make myself look a little better by saying that I did not intend to listen. It just happened. The two men in the booth behind me were having a very animated discussion about baseball. In fact, I would dare say this was the most detailed conversation about a baseball game I have ever heard. One of the guys was getting more excited and louder with every pitch he described. When I say, “every pitch,” I mean he was going pitch by pitch through inning after inning in his recollections of this ballgame.

For a minute I got pretty excited about who this mystery baseball commentator might be. Was it some baseball play-by-play announcer or color-commentator? Was it an active or retired major league player recalling a memorable playoff game or maybe even a game from the World Series? The conversation went on and on. Strike two. Ball four. Line-drive. Pop-up. Stolen base. Double play. Wicked curveball. Pitch in the dirt. Tagged out at the plate. Pick-off attempt. Ground-rule double. Balk. Terrible call by the umpire. Questionable strategy by the manager. Pinch hitter. Relief pitcher. Extra innings. Walk-off single. Mobbed at the plate.

Just when I was trying to figure out how I was going to get the autograph of the baseball star sitting behind me his words revealed that the entire conversation was about a little league game that his son had played. Then I realized the entire conversation had been from the perspective of a father sitting in bleachers behind the backstop to watch his son’s game.

The conversation had come alive with details because that father had been fully present at his son’s game. He wasn’t people watching or checking messages on his phone. He was glued to the game — every single pitch of the game — because it meant so much to his son.

And that’s when I looked across the table into the forgiving eyes of my wife.