A little over two weeks ago, I was sitting across the table from one of my dearest friends. It had been ages since I’d seen him last. For half an hour, we talked about anything and everything. Catching up on details. After a while it struck me, something rare had happened.
Never once did my friend’s attention stray from our conversation. There were no interruptions. He made his usual jokes, and then sat and listened patiently to really hear how I was doing.
It’s hard to describe the immense comfort of realizing, in that moment, there was no one else he would rather be talking to. Nothing in the world can make you feel so important.
Isn’t this how every conversation between friends should be?
All too often, I find myself completely distracted. Maybe, you’ve noticed it too. When a conversation is less than interesting, I can’t help but sneak a look at my telephone. If I’m sitting at the computer, it’s a strain for anyone to penetrate my thoughts. And if the television is on, I usually tell everyone to just be quiet. There are so many things to divert our attention these days. It’s almost like we’re living in a constant state of half-listening.
A great deal of my life is also spent daydreaming. At work, I can while away the hours, fantasizing about being elsewhere. A new town, a different job, somewhere lost in the mountains. Maybe in a cabin, laboring over scribbled notes and an old-fashioned typewriter, drinking perfectly brewed coffee. You know, doing only the most meaningful things with my time.
These daydreams are a part of me, and I won’t give them up without a fight. But sometimes I wonder if there’s a price being paid. When I forget to give my whole attention, wishing away the days and the hours instead, I forget to enjoy the days that I have been given.
Recently, my family and I watched the film About Time. I would like to find whoever wrote it and kiss them right on the mouth. The screenplay was brilliant, the story was completely wonderful, and I think it captured perfectly what I’m trying to say. The plot focuses on a young man, navigating his way through life in search of love. On his twenty-first birthday, he learns he can travel through time and relive parts of his past. The central theme that emerges is to notice the details, and realize each day is remarkable. I hope I haven’t given too much away, because if you haven’t yet, then you really ought to see it.
Wherever you are, be all there.
I’ve been pondering these words from Jim Elliot, for several weeks now. It sounds like a riddle, but really it’s quite simple. It means to be fully present; having enough self-control to focus and engage your attention completely. Either to accomplish the task at hand, or to invest in the person sitting across from you.
This is going to take practice. But I think if we stop trying to live three-steps-ahead of ourselves, we’ll realize something. Right this minute, we have so many reasons to be grateful.
We really are the lucky ones.