Monday, December 6, 2010

Just what does that mean, "be where you are?"

There's a terrific book called Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to create a more peaceful, simpler life from the inside out, by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey that I haven't read in a while, but now that I think about it, I will probably re-read soon. I think that my notion of "be where you are" probably emerged from this book. It's very simple really. Wherever you are, be there mentally as well as physically. This is easier to say than do, especially today when multi-tasking is believed to increase productivity. (It doesn't, but I'll save that for another post.)

This is especially a good idea when one is driving. Be driving when you are driving, don't be talking on the phone, fiddling with the radio, eating lunch, disciplining the children, petting the dog, etc.. Cars can be lethal weapons. Cars with drivers who are not focusing on driving are even more lethal. No conversation you may wish to have is more important than my life or yours.

But beyond safe driving, to be where you are is important for relationships too. I have a friend, and I love her dearly, but when we are together, I don't always feel like she is with me. She is on the cell phone more often than not. Sometimes the calls are important, but usually they go more along the lines of justifying why she is spending time with me rather than with the other people in her life. She's busy, a single mother with a very busy career. The demands on her time are many, and I feel privileged that she makes time to spend with me. But she isn't really with me, is she? She's with them, in front of me. I don't mean to sound like I am complaining. I would rather have this time with her than none at all. We have a lot of fun in between those phone calls, and I find her conversations interesting and intelligent.

Being where I am makes me a better listener. Because I am being there mentally as well as physically, I am actually listening to what is being said, not formulating my own response to the first three words, not mentally writing a grocery list or planning dinner or arguing with my mother in my head. I think we as a species take listening for granted. It's an ego thing, that belief that what we have to say is more important than what the other person is saying. We are all important. Each life has its place and each voice has meaning.

To be where you are is to be in the moment, enjoying it (or enduring it), and not wishing it away with thoughts of the future or the past. Time seems to last longer when we make each second count. Time is all we have, it is precious, it cannot be saved, but it can be savored.

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