Sunday, September 2, 2012

"I Love You Man!"

To be most effective at maintaining optimal well-being and joyfulness my life is filled by strategic actions. One of those is visiting the Library on a near daily basis. This one strategy covers many facets of real or potential difficulties in my life. My primary reason for visiting is internet usage. That serves a two-fold purpose being saving me the direct financial cost of home internet service but also preventing me from spending countless hours surfing the Net from article to article until I collapse into a slumber. Some of the secondary reasons are to ensure that I actually extract myself from my sometimes overly comforting abode and also to socialize with members of my community. Finally, there is a vast wealth of resource materials at my beckoning shall my research require that additional depth of detail.

So it is that my usual visit is simply to check email, Facebook for a moment, a little eBay shopping and the usual information gathering about the weather, local news and searching for my favourite psychological fulfillment -- yard sales. I enter the Library and land upon my usual perch, the bench under the display windows where I can maintain a watchful peripheral view of my bicycle and those passing through the doors. A typical small town activity -- seeing who is coming and going from any public locale.

On my most recent visit I am well into my research about sealing court records after having collected the names and addresses of those who have paid for some items on eBay which I intend to get in the mail before the Post Office closes at 4:00. I need to be hasty to meet this deadline.

At this time an older gentleman who is a regular patron ventures down the stairs for a gander at the street side parking area outside the main entrance. He then turns, inquires about my latest goings on and then plops down next to me. I briefly mention my latest court happenings, my fortuitous eBay experience and my afternoon agenda consisting primarily of getting to the Post Office. He makes small talk and asks a few questions about some programs he would like for his computer. I give affirming nods as I listen to his stories and offer input as requested.

He has had a stroke but is functioning quite well. He does have some limitations and always expresses regrets about those but at the same is grateful for the life he still enjoys and the support network that surrounds him such as the friend who drives him to from the library. My work is done and I have subtly closed my netbook and prepared to leave. He finally acknowledges his contribution to delaying my impending departure and offers his apology for the auditory restraint. I wasn't so crunched for time that I couldn't listen though. I never am. I dismiss any need for an apology and offer my departing well wishes. He tells me "I love you man!" and the door closes behind on another encounter with this former stranger who I've come to know as he awaits a ride back home from the Library.

It was a gratifying moment that reinforced my long held belief that people need to and appreciate being heard. I mean heard as in the sense of listening, becoming cognitively aware of the person's message not just the affirmative nod that substitutes for the underlying 'you are annoying me' feeling that so many couples project to each other or parents to their children.

It's a simple act to stop for a moment and listen. As I have moved about the streets of downtown Indianapolis from meetings, court hearings, legislative endeavors or other events I see the homeless -- at least that is the projected appearance -- people set up the street corners. I have heard their colourful tales of hardship, poor decisions and often times a sense of abandonment. It's no problem for me to take time from my day to listen to their stories. If it was then I would know that I am not living my life properly for if I am too busy to listen to a story then I am doing something wrong.

I am still confounded as to why something so easy eludes so many. I see it so often in the high conflict relationships between former spouses. It is apparent when children flock to me and I excuse myself from the conversation with the parent because "someone has a story to tell to me." Life is a series of stories -- being told and being listened to with enthusiasm. In today's marketplace where the left-brained logical thinking paradigm has been replaced by computer programs or workers in India it is those who see the bigger picture, who put humanity into work and who are the listeners of stories that will survive.

If you would like to learn strategies for building communication and improving relationships then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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