Monday, October 12, 2009

The Listener


Something's weighing heavy on my mind. On Saturday we went to Janice's memorial service. I have written a bit about her here on my blog, go on over and check out her website, and you will see what a remarkable person has just left this earth. After the service we drove down to San Diego to have dinner with friends. We spent the night and on Sunday went to visit my cousin, (I don't see her nearly enough).

I'm struck by how important connections are. So many people showed for Janice they spilled out of the church and onto the sidewalk. Me and The Husband drove a good distance to get there and ended up standing just outside the doorway. Many people spoke. A thread ran through each person's observations, Janice was a woman that connected: with her own family, her artist friends, the entire community. She had an unusual gift for connecting with just about everyone she met. How many of us do? Especially writers. I think most of us are introverts. We stay at home and type away much of the time.

Think about it. Do you go out of your way for people? Are you genuine? Will they remember you?

Maybe blogging presents a more comfortable way for us to connect with others. Face it, when you decide to be a writer, you are reaching out, but you're saying what you've got to say with words on paper. There's a separation right there, so the added separation of the Internet isn't a stretch, not really. It's just one more way to get your words, (brought to life sometimes by difficult means), read by others. We are connecting! Yay! Why, we wouldn't have started a blog if we were out and out hermits. I feel better.

It's not that I don't love people. But I'm not one of those that spends lots of time out and about. I'm a homebody, and so is The Husband. We're busy working on our craft, you can here the clickity click of the computer keys. I'm sure my dogs think all humans hunker over glowing monitors. Oh, they see us take breaks, after all we have to eat, go shopping, and we do walk them. Got to get the exercise in.

My point is, I am going to work harder at enriching all my connections. It's time to ditch insecurities, calm the frantic back chatter of the mind, to be in the moment and really see and feel one another. When someone is talking to me, I will not be thinking about how my car needs to be washed, I will stop and listen to them. What they have to say is important. I refuse to ignore a child. How many times has one of your kids been talking to you and you're busy wondering if the chicken you took out of the freezer too late will be thawed out enough to make dinner, (or some equally mundane detail), and you didn't fool them one little bit, did you? They knew. They weren't heard. Janice was a listener. How much better would the world be if we all became listeners?

If you visit Janice's website you'll see her art. People from all over the world buy her pieces to treasure. Her journals are in the Smithsonian. She left bits and pieces of herself behind. She created and created and created. Will you leave bits and pieces of yourself behind? Do you think anybody cares? Make them care. Give them good reason.

(Oh, I know I promised pictures from our short weekend trip, but I was too busy connecting to take any. This is one I did take, of my cousin's little daughter taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. If you saw the movie Little Miss Sunshine, this little girl is a dead ringer for the girl in the movie, sans the chubbiness. And I'm happy to report, we connected.)




All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

21 comments:

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I admire your resolution, Elizabeth. I've always been incredibly shy amongst strangers. I'm quite out-going among friends, but very quiet with those those I don't know.

Connections are important, of course. And face to face connections are by far the best. But anything or anyone that reminds us that there are others in the world is a good thing. Like you have done for me today!

Elspeth

lakeviewer said...

Good words, great reminder. We forget that the people around us are more important than anything else we do.

Tom Bailey said...

These are important questions to ask yourself when it comes to funnerals.

Another way I have looked at it is that at the average funneral less than 7 people will cry.

At the average funneral wheather is the detirmining factor in how many people show up.

So why if it is iffy if people are even going to cry or wheather will detirmine wheather or not they show up... why should I be overly concerned about what others think?

---

The other one I recall about funnerals is the CEO and the crossing guard story.

Great thoughts and great post.

Best regards

ellen abbott said...

I've always been a bit of a loner so hiding away in my house or studio is comfortable. I make myself go to a yoga class at a friend's house once a week, for the yoga, yes, but just as importantly, for the friend time. Also I was thinking about listening several weeks ago and how it is so often connected to patience. To be a good listener, I think, you have to cultivate patience.

Joanne said...

What a lovely inspiration you took from Janice's memorial service, to connect. Really, is there anything more enriching? Thanks for sharing this, Janice's life reached that many more people through your post.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely post, Elizabeth. I think your friend would be very proud to have inspired such a wonderful resolution. Thank you so much for sharing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for the reminder about making personal connections, Elizabeth. Writers are frequently introverted observers, and I definitely am. I clicked over to Janice's blog...she was an amazing artist. I'm so sorry at the loss of your friend. The wonderful aspect of art is that it lives on, even beyond the memories of the grieving.

Elizabeth

The Things We Carried said...

i am a people person YET I love home time to write, read, paint, and create. It is a constant battle for me to make myself break away to those friends I love and don't see enough!

Jenn said...

I have truly been feeling this exact way lately. Even wrote about something similar just this afternoon in fact. It is insane how easy it is to just hole up inside isn't it? It is so much easier to reach out online as there are no preconceived notions when we don't see each other's "shells". It makes it so much easier to connect, and to really listen. If we don't want to we just click that little red X and no one is the wiser. In life there is no button to shut down so we have to make the best effort not to. Great reminder, from one shy gal to (seemingly?) another, it is nice to connect with you! :-]

colbymarshall said...

I'd like to attend my own funeral (well, lol, I'll be "in attendence", but unfortauntely i'll be the guest of honor!) to see who's there, what they say about me, etc. Too bad I don't really believe in reincarnation...maybe I could come back as a fly on the wall...

kerrycharacters said...

Hello Elizabeth,
Just a bit of proof coming your way that you are connecting more than you know. I was so happy with your comment on my blog, so encouraged to hear from someone who is there as a published writer. I read your blog and thought about my own connections. I have my two daughters at home today with coughs and sniffles. I resolve to make it a special day for them and also to reconnect with some friends and family I have been meaning to contact. Thanks for throwing the pebble, I am feeling the ripples here in France.

Jody Hedlund said...

Very deep reflections, Elizabeth. You're so right about blogging being the way we writer connect. I had the fortunate opportunity to meet some blogging friends at a writer's conference and I was amazed at the ease with which we all connected right away. It was as if we were already all friends! So I love that it happened in real life too. It makes me more confident about blogging and other internet relationships. They can be real if we are truly genuine!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

You stole my post for tomorrow! LOL! This is exactly what I was going to write about! Great minds...!

As I get older, I find I'm more content to be a home body with the hubby. My people connection has become selective to those who I enjoy being with, not those who I feel I have to be with.

I love my bloggie friends! They are more like family than some of my real family. I would be lost without the daily connection with them!

Shirley Wells said...

Wise words. A reminder to us all.

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

It's true that writing has closed off a lot of people from me. I used to own a business and knew most everyone around.

One thing I found is occasionally you should travel alone without a car. Travel by bus or train. Talk to everyone. Go somewhere where you know no one. I like this I meet so many people. Husbands and cars buffer us from people I'm afraid.

Kim said...

Yes I feel this in myself as well. It's as if finally the world came up with just the right invention to keep me isolated and in my head - email. I get so worked up about face to face interactions sometimes. There's a lot in this post to think about.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I just have to be more conscious of making this blog a regular stop, somehow it drops off my radar. There’s no excuse for that, especially since the content is so varied and so good. For example, Monday’s post about Janice and connections. Very thought provoking and very on point. We are indeed introverts. I must admit, it’s a comfortable, cozy world. Today, for example, it’s just past 1230 here and I’ve had my head buried in my WIP all morning. Done little else. Made good progress, but, have done little else. I had to make an appointment to meet someone at 4PM and I secretly don’t want to go.

Life is too short. Yes, that’s a clichĂ©, but, how true. Don’t have time to hide and look the other way, the minute that just passed is gone for good. Did I make the most of it? Maybe not.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Lori said...

I am withdrawn too. But I do have a few friends and my family and I do try to go out of my way for them. I know they'd care even if I didn't.

Julia Gothold said...

Sorry I missed you guys at the memorial. I was wondering if you'd be there. It was a great send-off, wasn't it?

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Julia Gothold, I want to talk to you girl. when you left your comment, it doesn't provide a link so I can reach you. Go to my profile, and click on e-mail and message me so we can chat! They sure did give Janice a great send off. We wanted to stick around and go to the house so bad, but had made a previous engagement two months before that we couldn't get out of. Hope you see this.

JD said...

i am so sorry for the death of ur friend. may her soul rest in peace. her work is simply outstanding. loved them..