Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Day Twelve -- I like listening, people hate my advice...
The above title is rather awkward but the first part, listening, is something I love. I like when people trust me enough to share their thoughts and personal stories. I must look non-threatening or give off some aura of trustworthiness because I find myself talking to people I don't know very well and finding out detailed and interesting things about them. I love to hear what people have to say and to find out what life has taught them, where they've been and where they are headed. My friend, Laurel, told me recently that she learned more about a friend of hers while listening to me talk to her for 30 minutes than she had learned in five years of their friendship. I hope that doesn't mean I'm nosy. Who was that nosy neighbor lady on Bewitched? Gladys Kravitz? No, I'm not like her.
A few months back, when I was buying books on death and dying, I asked the clerk at the bookstore to show me where they were. He stood and talked with me while I looked through the shelf and told me about the murder of his girlfriend and his brother. I was interested and asked questions and I like to think it was cathartic for him as he started crying and thanked me for listening. I wasn't embarassed and neither was he. He was still in great pain and had a lot of residual anger which was understandable. Sometimes people just need someone, anyone, to listen and I like playing that role. Whenever I'm at that bookstore now, he smiles and waves. I made a friend though he doesn't know my name and I don't know his.
My problem comes when listening to my kids. Then I want to give advice. And nobody wants unasked for advice, especially young adults. I don't give advice to strangers but when it comes to my kids it must be due to being a mother and having helped them through all kinds of problems through the years. It's hard to turn off the advice machine and just listen. Supposedly the first step is in recognizing and then admitting the problem. Now if I can just listen and not say anything until asked, I think the atmosphere will be more peaceful when I feel the urge to spill my pearls of wisdom upon them. It's hard to stuff a sock in it but I'm trying. I always say I'm still a work in progress.