When I Practice NOT Listening

As a teacher, you could probably catch me saying the word ‘listen’ just a few hundred times a day. But a big practice of mine is choosing not to listen. Somewhere along the line, I noticed a little habit of hesitation in myself. Part of me feels a little lame admitting that, like it’d be much cooler to start out saying that I’m a spur-of-the-moment kinda gal, fly by the seat of my pants, I’ll just jump right in at the chance to do anything. Now, I can be spur of the moment. Sometimes. But the truth is, it’s not my default mechanism. I’m much more likely to overthink be thoughtful about things. Thoughtful is reeeeelly nice for some things, but over-thoughtful can hold you back… if you let it. The best things often happen when I don’t listen.

Here are a few examples of how it’s gone down recently…

Remember when I went to the beach to see the sun rise on this new year? Well, I had the idea to do that a few days before New Year’s Eve, but then, I spent longer than I’m comfortable admitting, debating with myself about whether it was really a good idea or not. It sounded something like this in my mind: “Is it crazy to drive an hour there AND an hour back just to see a few minutes of sunrise? It’s going to be really cold. Do I feel like being that cold? It’s warm in my bed. I’ll have to wake up pretty early. Wouldn’t I rather sleep in? It’s going to be dark for most of the drive. Are drunks still driving home at that hour? Is this safe? That headlight still isn’t fixed, what if I get pulled over? That would suck. That would just ruin the whole thing.” I could come up with a ton of reasons not to go, reasons that I thought might make people think I’m really weird. But then this thought slapped me across the face, “Really?! Are you gonna let yourself talk yourself out of the first idea you had for yourself for this new year?” And that same thought bubbled up again and woke me up at 6 o’clock, with no alarm, just enough time to throw on the warmest clothes I have, drive, park and catch the 7:20 sun show. I’m so glad I didn’t let the hesitation win.

It will keep trying though.

Just this past weekend, I had another idea. One of my friends from college sent a message to a few of us in this ongoing group text session we have. Her kids were trying her patience and for a while we joked about why do we ever get so excited about teaching kids to walk and talk?! Because after a little while, we’ll do just about anything to get them to sit still and be quiet!  We’re kidding. We love kids. But if you spend any deal of time around children, you’ve likely had a day or two like that, right? So my idea? I’ll go surprise my friend. I’ll drive to her house in the morning with some coffee for her and her hubby and doughnuts for the kids. Won’t that be fun? Cue the doubts: “Doughnuts? Not the best thing to calm kiddos, is it? What if they’re still sleeping? What if they have early morning sports? It’s a forty-five minute drive and they could not be there. It’s literally zero degrees. I can’t even leave the treats on the porch if they’re not home. ‘Hey, I left you some sugar rocks and coffee ice-bergs.’ What if they wanted to go out to breakfast? It’s Valentine’s Day, what if they want some privacy? What if one of them is sick?” But then I imagined my friend’s laugh, her surprised face seeing me on her doorstep.  I could almost hear her laughing, like we were in the same room and I thought, “I wanna be in the same room as her!” So the next morning, I picked out all the heart shaped doughnuts and started driving. Halfway there, she sent a text. One of her boys HAD gotten sick the night before. “Long night,” she wrote. Sounds like someone who’d be happy to have a hot cup of coffee delivered to her door. And you know what? She was! She was super surprised! And we sat around the kitchen table and drank coffee and laughed, just like old times. Not listening wins again! It sent me on a little not-listening-high and I surprise-visited my brother and sister-in-law on my way home!

When I confessed my whole sunrise story to a friend, complete with all the worrisome thoughts, she said, “I thought all those same things for you when you sent me that sunrise pic.” So I know I’m not the only one who hears some hesitation, but I love when I’m NOT listening. Or else I would have missed this…

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6 thoughts on “When I Practice NOT Listening

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