We maintain an insane pace.
It’s been a great week, replete with family gatherings, food and drink, and a lot of errands. It’s been productive, it’s fed my soul, and I got exactly what I needed before heading into a new year. I’m ready to be successful, to achieve the goals I’ve set. I’m feeling good, but I’m also a little exhausted. It hasn’t been the most relaxing week, but that’s not always what we need. Sometimes, we’re busy in a different way, one that fulfills a part of ourselves that we’ve neglected. We can leave something alone for a while, but eventually, it speaks up.
Today was a crazy day. I ran around the North Shore, and all the while, I was waiting on a decision. This decision that would determine whether or not I’d get to officiate a wedding, a wedding that was to take place the very next day. The answer came at 4:45 pm, 15 minutes shy of closing time, and so most of the day, there was a medium to strong undercurrent of anxiety coursing through me. I was on edge, and I wondered what would happen if things didn’t go my way. A friend was flying in for the occasion, and more than that, I didn’t want to disappoint the happy couple.
Today was a victory, one that I’ll cherish, at least for the rest of the day. When I got home, knowing that I’d achieved what I’d set out to do, I fell into my couch. It wasn’t for long, but after this short break, I was rested enough to press on. There was more to do. There’s always more to do.
A lot of my days are like this. There are days when I’m getting things done, and yet, there’s that one thing that’s hanging out there, one thing that I’ve put off, and now it’s happening at the last minute. The situation almost always works out, but until it actually does, there’s that lingering doubt in my mind, that heavy anxiety that throws a punch or two every hour of the day, to the point where when I come home, I don’t have much left. One of the downsides of living alone is that there’s no one to talk to about the day, the trials and the tribulations. I suppose I could pick up the phone, but it isn’t quite the same.
Sitting there and needing to talk about my day just a little, I realized that it could all be so much worse. The bullet had been dodged, and there’s no use lingering on what almost did or didn’t happen. Once I was up and off the couch, healing came in the form of meditation and a workout. That’s when the edge came off, and I was much calmer as a result. These things balance me out, but I know there are things I could talk to friends about, things that bother me, but I’ll usually find a reason not to call. I’m very self-aware, and I don’t want to be that person who’s always calling to deliver bad news.
Maybe that’s why therapy makes so much sense. You don’t have to worry about the other person leaving you, or if they do leave, it’s rare. They sit there, hear you, and give you direction. The best ones encourage you to keep going, even when you’ve hit a wall, whether it’s real or self-imposed. Sit there and talk your heart out. In my opinion, everyone could use therapy. Not everyone’s mental health is deteriorating, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to vent your frustrations from time to time. Sometimes, you need to look someone in the eyes, know that they’re listening, and let out what’s burdening you. People who listen are in short supply, but they’re golden.
In a conversation with a friend, they told me about the nature of their master’s program. They told me that there was a striking contrast between school and work, and the reason was that in work, conversations were supposed to be brief and to the point. Say what you need to say, and then move on. Anything else seems like you’re just adding filler, when you could just as easily condense your message. In grad school, the goal was to dig deeper into the psyche, to really wrap your mind around what you were facing, and to do everything you could to reach and to help the person on the other side of that conversation.
I can switch back and forth, between long-winded answers and keeping it brief. I know there are certain situations where people want a message that’s lean, something that won’t take up too much time. People value efficiency, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel like this mindset is creeping into my everyday life. I still have good conversations, but I’m acutely aware of this feeling in my mind that creeps in, this feeling that seems to say, “Cut it short,” or, “There are other things you need to do, so don’t talk for an hour and a half.” I’m aware of it now. I’m making the effort to push back, but I also know that life only gets more hectic and busy. I know that it only gets more difficult to make time for a conversation with a friend, or even a total stranger.
That’s what it comes down to, making the time. So often, our minds are moving onto the next task we need to complete, rather than focusing on what’s right in front of us. You may not always have the time for a long discussion, but when you’re in that moment, make sure you’re paying full attention. Give the person the focus you know that you’d want, especially if you were letting go of something truly personal. We can do this for each other, this listening, this hearing of other people, but it takes a concerted effort. We need to look each other in the eyes, and ask follow up questions when the conversation permits. We need to speak when there are openings, and allow things to flow. We need to really listen, to train ourselves to listen for the messages that are sometimes hidden, that people give away without being explicit.
Make the time when you can, especially for the people who matter most. Make sure that you take the time every now and again to have a true conversation. One of the crazy things about getting older is how quickly time passes. Without realizing it, months and even years can pass before you have your next conversation with someone, but when that moment comes, make sure that you’re truly there. Be an active listener when you aren’t speaking, and allow the conversation to run its natural course. It might take some work, but the relationships we cherish will always be worth it. Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “I Hear You”
In your words, I hear you. A thoughtful (and needed) message as well as a considerate lesson. Nicely communicated.
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Thank you, Eric. I genuinely value your feedback and thoughtful comments. The past few weeks were a bit chaotic, but I’ll be back to posting regularly. Have a great weekend!