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Road of life

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road

Life is so much more than what you make it. That is the lesson I learnt over this weekend. As humans, we get so caught up in our own little bubble and it’s so easy to miss the direction in which those around us are moving. It’s like being on a road with people and being so wrapped up in your own experiences of the journey that you miss the fact that everyone else have turned with the bend of the road and you’re still walking straight.

I was on a weekend away with some friends and it was a great experience for me on so many levels. On one level, I got to relax and rest like I hadn’t done due to the stress of work and just life in general. I didn’t take work with me in the sense that it wasn’t on the fore-front of my mind and that was a beautiful thing in its self. Then there was another level where I got to meet some very interesting people that I had never met before. The different personalities on display were a great mix and just talking to some was eye-opening in more ways than one.

I also got to move from being acquainted with some to being friends. As it was a relaxing weekend, I got to see these people in their element without the cover of pretence and for the ones who let their guards down, I did the same and a friendship got started that I for one would love to develop.

But in all this, the most interesting for me were the friendships I had before this weekend. The people I knew and saw on a somewhat regular basis but never had access to the side of their person revealed over the weekend. It was great to see but it also highlighted just how little you can know about a person while still feeling so close to that person.

Over the past few weeks, I had been so wrapped up with my issues and the stress of work and just being burnt out from the grind of life. When I saw people, the level of conversation was still very superficial and it was partly due to the fact that I wasn’t willing to take on any more ‘baggage’ as I couldn’t see past my own. But this meant that I didn’t necessary see all of those around me. Their intelligence; their growth; the direction in which they were moving. All of which I got an insight to this weekend.

For me, this painted a larger picture. Not being able to see or feel or discern how others are feeling or where the wave of life is taking them and the way they feel about issues pertinent to them means that you are missing a chance to explore their nature and see their character for what it is. I know this has been said a million and one times but I think it’s necessary if only to remind me of the fact – human beings are selfish. We think of number one first and fore-most. Even in a conversation meant to revolve around someone else, we somehow find a way to shift the focus back onto ourselves.

For me, this has been my reality but I’ve been learning that holding on to a selfish mentality would cost you more than it would add to you. So I decided to see those around me for who they really are. I decided to learn to be observant. To sit back and let others do the talking. To listen without bringing myself into the conversation.

The funny thing was I couldn’t do it. I had to talk as that was just what I do. I had to being involved and give my opinion without necessarily giving you the chance to give yours. I found that I ’switched off’ whenever the conversation was not focused on me. But I also found out that those around me were doing the same. I found that when I started unburdening, yet again, the recipient seemed to have ’switched off’ though they were nodding and smiling. The worst was when I was talking and the other person got distracted at each turn making me feel as though they really weren’t interested in what I was saying.

That was when I realised that this was how others probably felt too when I did the same thing. That was when I realised that going through life with a ‘me’ mentality would hinder me from fully developing relationships of value that I can hold on to even at my lowest hour. It would stop me from seeing the true riches hidden in that person and their potential to be all they were made to be.

This weekend highlighted this to me. I took a back-seat this weekend mainly because I’m still learning to be quiet and take things in rather than feel the need to contribute as often times the contribution tended not to be weighty. My closest friends say it’s because I’m getting older and maturity is taking a foot-hold but I know that I have a lot to say, the thing is I’m just not saying them.

So why is this important? Well I’ve learnt that to have friends, you have to be a friend. To be a friend, you have to put the other person’s needs in front of yours. I don’t need to talk all the time. There is so much to learn from those around me and I surely did this weekend. An example would be with one of my friends (and I use the word carefully). I didn’t realise just how intelligent he was till I listened and observed him this weekend. His level of maturity was highlighted not just through his speech, but also in his dealings with those around him. My level of respect – yes respect – got quadrupled this weekend and he is now so much more than someone I know, but someone I could learn from.

That’s just an example but it made me think of how important it is to learn to distil the atmosphere before taking the plunge. If I had insisted on being the one talking the whole journey, I would have missed this side of him. I would have ’switched off’ once he started talking. I would have missed an insight into the person that is him. I’m not saying that we all should never talk and just listen, I’m saying that the balance has to be right in order for us to gain the most from each other. That was a major lesson for me.

Well, I could explore why it is we tend not to really listen to each other and why we tend to miss the potential in those around us but I’ll save that for another day. Till next time folks.

2 Comments »

  • sue said:

    What an insightful weekend, what an insightful post.
    I see this so much in my social and professional surroundings.
    I see this on the street when I bump into numerous people absorbed into their own worlds texting on their phones that I am just an inconvenience to them as we bump.

    We all need to be quiet – listen -observe outside ourselves.

  • tom said:

    I love the way you write!

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