One of my favorite things to do is to sit and listen. I love to listen to stories and conversations. Love it. Surprisingly, I have a favorite part of my chemotherapy treatments: listening to stories. You see, 99.999% of the time I am the youngest patient in the room. By like 20–30 years, at least. That has led to both directly listening to and overhearing some of the most awesome stories told by generations ago.
I noticed at my very first treatment a handful of the men in the room talking about D-Day and some of the firsthand experiences they had. Such a blessing to sit and listen. More recently, Tim and I have developed a little friendship with another couple, Dick and Judy. They are so, so sweet. Dick sat with us for about 20 minutes or so and shared with us a few stories about vacations that they had taken, their children, Judy’s second go-around with cancer, so on and so on. But none of it was in a sad way, although some of his story was sad, almost heartbreaking. He had this way of painting a picture of their life that I could see and hear the details of their past without knowing them for more than just a few brief visits. It was beautiful. Dick is a master storyteller. It’s just the way he’s wired. And it is so awesome to listen to him share.
There are so many other times we experienced people sharing their lives with us through their stories, ever so briefly and deeply, and I just love it. Both of my grandparents have passed away and I realize now how much I miss hearing their stories of their pasts. Driving Jeeps backwards during the war, and life back in Sweden. I wish I wouldn’t have taken those times for granted.
I feel like listening is something that my generation just doesn’t do well with. We don’t sit still and ask and listen.
We took the girls to downtown South Bend several weeks ago for breakfast, and afterwards we walked around town. Our youngest, Haven, was saying “Hi!” to everyone that she passed and no one said hi back. No one. They all had their heads down in their phones. Phones. So sad. We need to get off our phones and look around. Say hi and start connecting with people in real life.
I believe we are missing out on a very important part of life because we’re living busy lives buried in our phones. I believe that being handcuffed to an IV poll for several hours at a time every other week has been an incredible blessing and something I will cherish. I will miss these opportunities to sit and just listen to stories from generations ago. What a blessing I have experienced.
Remember, slow down and listen. There is so much to learn and experience.