Today as I was walking Roxie in the park, an attractive older lady walked by. I had no time for more than a brief “hello” as I reigned in Roxie and started speaking commands to her: “Leave it! Yes, yes, yes, Good Dog!” I continued on my way and followed the same routine on the bridge with the masses of middle schoolers who were walking/jogging/running for their gym class.
When I arrived home, I was surprised to see the attractive lady in deep conversation with my mother! Apparently the tomato bush purchased at Anton’s was the conversation starter–it’s gorgeous–but when I arrived they were figuring out where they had both travelled to. The lady didn’t stay long after I arrived but as she left my mom said “I hope you’ll stop by and see the tomato and my daughter from time to time.”
My mom has a gift of conversation. I remember being embarrassed as a kid when she would strike up a conversation with the person checking us out at the grocery store. She could and would talk to anyone. I probably take more after my father–taciturn, always a bit of a frown on my face (I’m thinking!), but I’ve learned to appreciate this gift of my mother’s to draw people out, to engage them and any pretext will do.
Perhaps my biggest problem practicing engaging those I meet is my own preoccupation. There is rarely a time when I am not processing something and that fascination with my own inner workings keeps me from seeing things that are truly physically before me, such as the attractive older lady in the park. I think I am the most interesting person in the world and it keeps me from taking an interest in others.
Granted, if I had been more open to the things in front of my eyes I still probably wouldn’t have engaged the attractive older lady in conversation. But I suspect my smile would have been wider and kinder and my “hello” warmer and richer.
Thank you for your example of loving others, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.