Pay attention to the most interesting of all…

May 2, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come s today’s inspiration – “There are millions of interesting things in this world, but they don’t actually become interesting until we devote our attention to them.”  (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

When you think about it there are interesting things all around us that we ignore in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes we only pay attention to them if someone makes a television show about them, whether it be interesting buildings in our town or the local flora and fauna that we drive or walk past every day. Somehow they become interesting enough to us to pause and take notice.

Log CabinObjects can be interesting because of the stories or history that might be behind them. IF you go to our local Milford Historical Museum you can see lots of things from the past in the Milford area, stating with a replica of the interior of a typical log cabin that the first settlers built. You come away amazed at how resourceful they were, even though they had none of our modern conveniences. Believe it or not l, they were able to get by without smart phones or TV’s.

Perhaps the most interesting things that you can focus your attention upon are the people that you encounter as you move thorough life. Just think how many people you pass by each day without having any idea about them, their life and history. What stories you will never hear, if you never take the time to meet them and then pay attention to what they have to say. Objects are great, but the stories behind objects often involve how and why people used them and for what. Once you start paying attention to people you will really find out some interesting things about them and the other people and objects that have been a part of their lives. That can be very interesting.

handshakeSo, if you are looking for something interesting to do, meet someone new and start paying attention to the story of their life. You will probably get the chance to share your life with them, too; because they will find your life interesting, too (even if you thought it was boring). What makes meeting and talking with other people so interesting is that they have done things and gone to places and had experiences that we haven’t, so they provide new knowledge about things that we may not have even thought about. You would be surprised at the things you can learn from someone whom you may have always seen as a boring, normal person – maybe a quiet and reclusive neighbor or the timid wallflower who never seemed to dance with anyone or perhaps the great uncle that you had never met.

If you don’t take the time and make the effort, you will never know that the little old lady, now crippled and stooped by age and arthritis used to be a ballet dancer with the New York City Ballet or that the humble old man who is now a school crossing guard served in the Viet Nam War and received a Silver Star and the Purple Heart for heroism during an enemy attack. If you don’t pay her any attention you will never get to discusslistener with the nice little lady at the library desk her vacation trips to the Amazon jungles and her encounter with tribes of natives who are still living as they did centuries ago. Who are these people? They are the people that you past every day without paying any attention to them.

Meet someone new this week and pay enough attention to them to uncover their story, their history the things that make them interesting. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll be enriched by what you might learn about and from them. There is nothing more interesting in this world than those all around you.

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Someone is waiting to talk to you today…

May 17, 2015

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”  (Carl Sagan) – I saw that little saying some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog and filed it away for future comments.

saganSagan is one of the great scientific minds of our time and he is certainly right about great things waiting to be known.  Just in my lifetime some many great things have been discovered or done that there would not be enough room to list them here. The pace of discovery has picked up too, as seemingly the more that was discovered the wider the frontiers for even more discoveries. Sometimes I wonder, what took them so long to make the connections between one thing and another in order to see even more things that were hitherto unknown. Sometimes it’s the development of instruments or tools that hold up discovery for a while, but many times it is just man’s inability to see beyond the obvious or the current and to look for something new just beyond what is currently known.

I think the same little phrase could be easily modified to read, “Somewhere someone incredible is waiting to be known.”  Don’t you often wonder, “ I wonder what their story is?”;  as you pass by someone, maybe someone with an unique look or perhaps an intriguing “air” about them. Haven’t you ever seen someone across the room at a party or gathering and wonder who they are and what their story is, what they do, where they came from and where they’re going? Maybe you’ve overheard someone talking about living overseas and wondered how that must have been. Perhaps you’ve listeninglistened to a speaker and thought about what they must have gone through to get to this point in their life.  There are all examples of incredible people who are waiting to be discovered.

While our lives all march forward with time they do not do so in parallel; rather they come and go from all sorts of angles, intersecting our lives for a moment and then disappearing off in their own direction. What makes life really interesting is those few moments of intersection when we can share experiences and knowledge with each other. Many people think their lives to be uninteresting or even boring; but, most have actually done or seen or experienced things that others may not have, so they do have something to share. The problem is that none of take enough time during those moments of intersection with others to really get to know them and let them know you. Admittedly, a chance meeting at a gathering is unlikely to be that opportunity; however, we do get more than that with many people in our lives. How often do we actually explore their lives and share ours?

I wrote recently about conceit and perhaps it is that which tends to drive us to focus upon ourselves, rather than to blah blahexplore what the other person has to offer. If you spend the entire time with with someone them telling them about your trip to the grocery store or the little league game, they may not have time to tell you their story about going to tiger Stadium and meeting Justine Verlander. If you care more about relating your story of your last vacation to Disney World, you may miss their story about meeting the Pope in Rome. Maybe your child’s latest bout with pink eye is more important than finding out from a woman that you meet that her mother went to school with your mother and that her mother almost married your dad; but, you’ll never know that because you never got around to listening to their story.

Then there are the stories of the people that we avoid. The homeless man sleeping in the doorway may have been a successful businessman and a family man – how did he get here? The bag lady pushing the grocery cart down the street wasn’t born on the street. How did she get here? Does she have a family somewhere? What does she need to get back on her feet? How will you ever know if you don’t ask? There are so many people whom we might meet with stories that might help us better understand different perspectives on life, if only we engaged with them in conversations. It is so much easier to sit back and condemn people who pursue the GLBT lifestyle than to engage them in meaningful conversations that might help us better understand. It is also easy to dismiss and avoid those of different faiths that we do not understand, rather than seeking an understanding of their view of God and the influence of faith and religion on their lives.

Don’t you think that the Good Samaritan in the Bible story probably talked with the man that he helped on the road that day and even listened to his story; or do you believe that he just threw a few Shekels at the inn keeper that he took thatGood Samatitan
man to and told him to take care of the robbery victim. Using charitable giving is sometimes so convenient because we don’t have to take the time to actually meet the poor people that our money is supposedly helping.  Just dump a buck or two in the can of the poor guy sitting on the sidewalk, but try not to make eye contact. His sign says that he’s a homeless Vet; did it ever occur to you to ask how the hell he got there after serving his country?

Somewhere someone incredible is waiting to be known; but you’ll have to look them in the eye and listen to their story. Maybe someone will take interest in you long enough to listen to your story. We will all get there someday – to that place where we are hoping that someone wants to take the time to talk to us and listen to our story. Be that someone for someone else today.