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Pay Attention

Monday, November 29, 2010

I was once privileged enough to see comedian Sam Kinison perform live. One of his skits that I fondly remember went like this.

Have you ever wondered why complete strangers will easily forgive you for small transgressions? You bump into them, you say your sorry, their immediate response is “that’s okay”, life moves on as usual and the moment most likely forgotten. You’re at church, your child uses his outside voice, you apologize to the neighboring parishioners and again the most common response is “that’s okay”. But what would happen if most of us were more literal.

You’re in a bathroom stall, someone pushes on the door too hard, it opens to both of your shock, they say “sorry”, you say “that’s okay”, they immediately turn around yelling “Hey you guys, come on in, she said it was okay!”

I think of this skit every time I hear someone make those same comments. It is stupefying at how little phrases have become so commonplace that they no longer hold any meaning. We sort of take them for granted. We ask, “How are you?” not expecting more of a response than, “Fine”. Anything else is breaking the unwritten rules of society today. It’s sad. Even phrases like, “I love you”, have lost their meaning.

I was on the phone with a co-worker and at the end of our conversation, very much to my surprise, he said, “Love you”, before hanging up. I held the phone and stared at it completely befuddled. When I laid down the receiver it immediately rang again. It was my very embarrassed coworker apologizing for the closing comment. His excuse was that he was in the habit of always closing a phone conversation with his wife by saying that and it had become so routine that he didn’t even realize what he had said until he hung up. Again, it’s sad.

I know everyone is in a hurry all the time. Items are marketed to the public en masse that are mentioned as being timesavers. With all of these time saving items that are sold each day, the average person should have hours of free time every evening. Isn’t that the goal to saving time? Not to cram in more things that deplete this valuable commodity? If you really think about it, really and truly, how valuable is your time when you put it in the context of spending it with loved ones. To me, that is very valuable. It is, after all, one of life’s treasures to even have people with which to share all our important and not so important moments.

My challenge to all that read this is to spend one day respecting each other enough to notice what we all consider the small things. When you ask someone how they are, mean it! And listen to their answer. If they just say, “fine”, then ask them why it’s fine. Next time you tell someone I love you, look into their eyes, make sure they are paying attention so that they realize you are about to say something so profound and important that their undivided attention is needed. Because it is, you know, profound and important. Making all this extra effort takes a little time. Good thing you’ve saved so much of it that it won’t even make a dent in you cache

Thanks for reading my ramble.
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    Nicely said.
    2636 days ago
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