As the world bustles, and we rush to meet deadlines, check off to-do lists, and fulfill those party invites, find a moment to pause, look, and listen. Share a photograph, thought, or inspiration.
It’s been a busy week. Next week – with Christmas in the middle – will be even busier.
However, I realized the need to…pause…in my usual December madness of holiday planning, shopping, wrapping, card writing – and all that leads up to the 25th.
This past Tuesday I flew to Washington DC to attend my daughter’s commencement ceremony at the Univ. of Maryland College of Education. Where she received a doctoral degree in Education Policy. How could I not go? Even if it was the week before Christmas. She worked extremely hard and I am so happy for her. Oh…and proud too.
Traveling is one of my least favorite activities as I’ve gotten older…especially in winter weather. So imagine my rising anxiety level on Tuesday with the snow falling at a steady clip as I rode the bus to the airport. No surprise when I found out (after boarding) that the plane was delayed.
I sat and waited….with a look out the window.
Two hours passed.
All the while hoping the flight wouldn’t be cancelled.
My only choice…trapped in row 14 for 4 hours…was to pause, look and listen…
…but mostly to think…about the ceremony I would attend the following day, along with my son-in-law and grandson.
This would be the last of many graduations I’d attended for the little girl who grew up so fine and fast. Who loved school and learning from the age of 3. Passionate and driven by a desire to make this a better world for everyone. Not just for people like her…who are blessed with opportunity and privilege.
She was also the commencement student speaker.
I told my grandson, snuggled in my lap…Mama will be making a speech! Why? he asked. Because she has important things to say! I answered.
She proposed a different approach for those graduates entering their postgraduate lives – the flip side of talking and sharing their voices…
….Pause. Close your mouth, calm your mind, allow for silence. Cultivate humility. Acknowledge the limits of your education and engage in the practice that scholars and advocates call “radical listening.” Community organizer and activist Chanel Lewis describes radical listening as “intentionally quieting your internal voice and judgments thereby offering your full mental space to the speaker and suspending what you presume to know about someone and their experience in our shared society.”…Radical listening, I argue, is a crucial skill to help move our world toward greater justice…. Dr. Kristin Sinclair
This is just a snippet of her three minute speech, but it caught my attention.
You don’t hear that advice very often.
Usually it’s…Speak Up. Talk. Be heard.
Pause and listen…listen without judgment.
Perhaps that is radical.
But I like it.
It gave me much to think about on the plane the next day…before returning home to my holiday to-do list.
Even when I was a little kid. Despite the fact that I got carsick, I enjoyed the excitement of discovering the unknown. Even if it just meant the next “tourist trap” as my father described Country Stores and such. We didn’t go on many family vacations but they were always memorable for one reason or the other. One was the coin operated vibrating bed in a cheap motel room somewhere. I shoved a coin in the slot, pushed the button and surprise!
Fast forward a few decades. Air travel was exciting then. There was security of course, but we could bring any food and drinks right through all the checkpoints. Family members accompanied us to the departure gate and waved goodbye. Even 20 years ago, a cross country flight was not the hassle it is now. I didn’t think twice about the process. And I could run without gasping for breath to the gate for my connecting flight.
Now it is stressful – at least for me. My adult children are faintly annoyed by this (well, perhaps more like eye-rolling annoyed). They don’t understand…because they have mostly known air travel post 9/11. I remember when it was easy. They do not.
So here I am. High anxiety 2 days out. Making lists. Everywhere.
Getting ready to fly to see my grandson – all 2 ½ years of him. And his parents too, of course — who need some childcare help while the daycare is closed for a few days. Grandma to the rescue. So to speak rescue. Well, Grandma is trying her best to get her travel act together. For a 4 day visit. Let’s see….
Make a list –
What will fit in the carry-on….that I can lift and drag/wheel through the airport including the ladies room. Along with my tote bag, purse, computer, etc.
What do I need…what don’t I need….
Back cushion!! Don’t forget that.
Special goodies for the kiddo.
What about the weather! High anxiety 2 days out.
I wonder if this is a sign of advancing age…the inescapable fact that my body is just not responding to my commands as it used to. Sitting. Standing. Stairs. All harder. Trying to find safe foods to eat on the road…gluten free because I have to.
What the heck.
However what I do know for sure (thank you, Oprah) is that I miss the sight of this little one who I last saw in person…walking down my hall in June. It’s the ache in my heart that won’t calm on its own.
So, until his little family moves closer – about 500 miles closer – I will quench my thirst for this bundle of love and limitless energy.
By powering through this travel thing.
To see him. And his parents too.
FaceTime is all very well and good,
But nothing beats a real hug and sloppy 2 year old kiss.