Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
After two days of training, the last thing I felt like doing was talking with the driver on the way to the airport. So as I collapsed into the seat, I listened, at first maybe halfheartedly, while watching all the traffic in Brooklyn and trying to keep my eyes open. Then, as I picked up on a few words, I began to understand his broken English, and I found myself very present in his story. He was sharing the problems his son was having with drugs and alcohol and how difficult it was not being from this country and trying to find the help he needed. I could relate to his story, as one of my brothers was experiencing a similar problem, and even being a citizen, it was difficult for my brother to get successful rehabilitation and support. And so I listened, for well over an hour, hardly saying a word, except to nod my head, raise my eyebrows, and furrow my brow to show that I understood, and empathized. When we arrived at the airport and I asked how much, he replied, “No, no. No charge.” I was shocked, and because usually nothing is free in New York, with hesitation and a bit of fear, I said, “Oh no, I insist.” Still shaking his head, he very gracefully said, “Best conversation I've ever had—please, no charge.” Wow—talk about generosity!
When we are completely present and listening with our hearts, it is a gift to those on the receiving ...