Sometimes, I don’t listen to that little voice very well. You know the one I’m talking about, that tiny voice that speaks to us in our ear oh so quietly, barely even at a whisper. The one that nudges us so softly we can miss it… and I do most of the time. Well, maybe not “most of the time” anymore but I’m learning. I’m learning to pay attention when I feel like a little bitty voice is telling me to go this way or that way, or to sit down and listen, or to pick up the phone, or to not eat that because my insides won’t like it. I’m learning. Really, I am.
But some days, it seems like the tiny voice is on over-active duty or something. Are those the days when I need to pay attention a little more? A lot more? What kind of experience am I going to have if I listen? Or if I don’t listen? What am I avoiding by not listening? What am I missing?
Some days that little voice is pretty persistent, chattering on like I was actually listening or something. Some days I really do listen and it seems like just doing what is considered “normal” stuff is the making of an adventure. I suppose it’s good experience in adventure-seeking, knowing that the simple, ordinary, average occurrences of a regular day can turn out to be experiences beyond the norm. If I would only listen.
Today was one of those listening days.
I got up early this morning knowing that I was going to drive across the river (the mighty Columbia River) for some bloodwork at the medical center lab, which means no eating or drinking for at least 12 hours beforehand. So after I ate dinner last night (little proscuitto and pesto-filled pasta “caps” with a garlic marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s – yum!), I knew I’d be starving to death until about 9-ish this morning. Ok, I’d only be starving to death in the first world sense, because I wasn’t even going to be missing a meal, just delaying it by an couple of hours, but you know what I mean. I took my one little thyroid pill with a couple swallows of water and told Isabelle I’d be back in a little bit. She’d already had her breakfast of raw meat nuggets and we’d already sat for awhile in the backyard, soaking in the early morning sun. Yay, sun!
I started looking around for my car keys. Nope, not here, Nope, not there. Dang it. They’re probably in the ignition. Yup. They sure were. Now I’ve been having trouble with forgetting my keys in the car and locking the doors so I’ve kept a spare key in a little magnetic key holder under the back bumper. But I’d had to use it a couple of days ago and I don’t like putting it back under the bumper where people can see me doing it so instead I set it on the floor of the car near the front seat where I could see it every time I got in or out as a reminder to replace it. But I didn’t do it. That little voice kept telling me to take care of it (prompted by the visual reminder of seeing the holder every time I drove somewhere) but I ignored it, telling myself I’d do it later. So when I walked out to the car and saw the keys hanging from the ignition, I knew I had to do something else to get in.
I called AAA.
The dispatcher said it would be 35 minutes before they got to me and asked if I wanted a text message with the driver’s progress and I said, “Yes! I do!” I immediately received a message even before we had hung up and I prepared to wait a half hour. But low and behold, the locksmith guy was there in less than 15 minutes – he said it was a quiet morning. I’m happy for quiet mornings.
He had the lock popped up in about 5 seconds (gotta love those slim jims!), looked at my picture ID to make sure I was me, and he was out of there in less than 30 seconds. Yay Triple A!
I jumped in my car (ok, I climbed in) and took off for the medical center. It took me about a half hour to get there – I checked in and was getting the red stuff drained from my arm in less than 5 minutes after my arrival. Amazingly fast service! I’ve had this blood-taker before and she’s awesome – no bruising, no needle prick, no problems. Two vials drained away and full of blood, and off I go. Yay for awesome lab techs!
What a hoot! Speedy service all the way around today!
Now I’m back to that starving thing I was doing so I headed over to the hospital for some food – namely a breakfast sandwich or burrito, and a cup of coffee. I picked the burrito, full of hash browns, eggs, bacon, cheese, onions, peppers (which I could have done without), all covered in some tasty salsa. Yum! And fresh brewed Kobos coffee. Yum again! Yay for breakfast burritos!
As I was walking down the stairs from the Terrace Café (yup, it even has a name) on the third floor, I could hear someone playing the piano somewhere. If I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn it was my mom playing some old time church music on her piano in our living room at home. Now, just to set the scene, picture this: I’m now on the second floor of the hospital, having just come down the staircase from the cafe on the third floor, and there’s an open area that extends the entire height of the building, between the front windows and the three floors, and it sounds like the music is coming from below where I’m standing. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention, other than to tell myself how cool the pianist sounded, and I headed over to the escalator to go back to my car. But something, that little tiny voice, was speaking to me. Saying go find out where that’s coming from. I went back to the volunteer’s desk I had just passed and asked about it, finding out that there’s a piano in the lobby of the first floor near the outpatient surgery. Thinking I was still heading to my car, I walked over to the escalator and instead of going up to the parking garage, found myself going down.
I walked over to where I could hear the piano music, where all I could see was the very tippy-top of a grey-haired head behind the big full-sized grand piano, and sat down where I could hear the music, but not see the pianist. I was there for almost an hour, listening to her play song after song that my mother used to play when I was a kid. And once again, I found myself choked up at the reminder that my mom doesn’t want me in her life anymore. And once again, I reminded myself that I could either dwell on that negative thought – or I could enjoy the piano playing and remember what it was like as a kid to listen to my mom’s piano playing.
I chose the latter.
But first I wanted to experience the feelings that felt like heavy bricks on my chest, let the
tears run down my cheeks, and remember that this moment right here right now is what it is and that my mom is who she is and I’m just fine today.
Funny thing happened once I allowed those feelings to be felt: I could move on to enjoying the music. I sat there until I heard the click of a key locking the keyboard up and I got up to go introduce myself to the pianist. Her name is Jan and she plays there every Wednesday morning from 9:30 to 10:30, give or take, as she put it, and she’s been doing it for years. When I told her how much it meant to me to hear her play, she said it was nice to hear the impact her music has on the people who hear it because she rarely hears from anyone; most people just walk on by, although a few do look over and smile at her. She asked me if I had actually remembered and sung any of the words, and I allowed that I had, although very very quietly. She then asked if I had recognized “Give me Oil in My Lamp” because she thought she had heard someone singing but couldn’t be sure she wasn’t just hearing things. Oh man, it was me… and I thought I had been so quiet.
I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to process a few more of those crappy feelings about my mom if I hadn’t listened to that tiny voice and sat with the music. Yay for piano players!
I left the hospital, drove down to get my mail at my mail service and had a nice chat with the woman behind the counter – she’s working full time, going to university to get her pre-med classes, has a partner and several kids and dogs at home, and recently had to relocate her family from their home because the owners are selling it. It’s been a tough year for her and it has reflected in her grades; she’s taking the summer off so she can have a break before going back at it in the fall. She inspires me with her fortitude and stamina in the face of life.
Again, I listened to the tiny voice – instead of just grabbing the mail for the box, I went in and chatted a bit. Again I was glad I did.
Heading to downtown Vancouver, looking forward to a cup of espresso, the little voice in my head told me to try a new coffee place called Black Rock Coffee. I was sure not disappointed. Julie the Barista made me a perfect little traditional macchiato and added a little sidecar of steamed milk so I could make my drink however I wanted it. What great customer service is that! Black Rock is now my new favorite go-to for espresso; they’re relatively new and have only been open at this location less than a year, but with the wood-fronted bar, the wide open space, the cheerful and friendly baristas, the single origin espresso, and the nice background music, it’s a place that I’ll be going back to whenever I’m across the river (that mighty Columbia River). Yay for Black Rock! (Julie even tried to give me too much change – when I gave it back to her, she smiled really big! Yay for smiles!)
I came back to the house, where I played around with Isabelle a bit and watered the garden Nick planted before he left. Guess what! The corn is up! A little sunlight, a little water, and we have green popping out of the soil! Yay sun! Yay water! Yay little plants!
(What’s the difference between dirt and soil? Glad you asked. I’ve always called dirt “dirt” but my ag friends call it soil so I did some googling – basically in a nutshell, dirt has no nutrient value whereas soil has all the components necessary to grow things like plants and worms. Now you know. Click here to learn even more.)
My day has been an interesting one, full of opportunities to listen to the little tiny voice, and full of interesting observations. Full of flowers and dogs, coffee and piano music. Full of sunshine and fast service.
So I’m learning to listen to that tiny little voice. I think it must be a lifelong process for someone like me, someone who has mistrusted that inner voice for as long as I can remember. The listening part does come a little easier now and then, and I hope and pray it continues to do so because life goes so much easier when I do listen to it. Call it serendipity or synchronicity or coincidence or good luck, whatever it is, life goes smoother. I smile more. The people around me smile more. Drivers are friendlier on the street. The dog is happier, the flowers are more colorful, the river water is warmer, the sun is brighter… ok, well, maybe not that last one as long as I’m here in the Pacific Northwest but I think you get my drift. Life is more brilliant when I listen. I’m committed to learning how to listen more often and more consistently.
How about you? Do you have any tips on how to listen? I’d love to hear them!
By the way, I’m still humming “keep me burning, burning, burning; keep me burning till the break of day” 😀