Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wandering around town

I do a lot of walking. Today I was strolling through downtown Castle Rock. I met a woman in her 70s.

I said hello. Without a lot of preamble, she launched into the core issues of her life. She wasn't from here. It was cold. She moved here to be close to grandchildren. But she didn't think she had much connection or influence over their lives. She had health issues. She was processing memories and conflicts from her childhood.

It was one of the most open and authentic conversations I've had in a long time.

Here's what I liked about it.

* she began with questions. Hi, how are you, who are you?

* she spoke about her life not in terms of judgment, but of attention. Here's what I'm thinking about, she said. What are you thinking about?

It's a truism that we have two eyes (to see), two ears (to hear), but just one mouth (to speak). But most of us view looking and listening as that annoying pause between our declamations.

I liked this lady. I liked that we could have, in the 15 minutes or so we chatted in the Colorado sunshine (on a very cold day!) a real exchange. There wasn't an ounce of disapproval, not an inch of slander. We were just interested in each other's lives and observations.

I walked her to a restaurant, then moved on. But we hugged at the end. "What a nice man!" she said. "What a nice woman!" I replied.

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In November of 2018, I left my position at ALA in Chicago to return to my Colorado-based writing, speaking, and consulting career. So I'...