April 15, 2011

Stop, Look, and Listen


We rush. We rush to get out of bed in the morning. We rush to get the kids off to school. We rush to the store to get milk. We rush to the post office. We rush to file our taxes. We even rush through our Facebook accounts on a daily basis, looking for the latest news from friends or family. Nearly everything we do in this 21st century world of high-tech gadgetry and instant gratification reminds me of watching an ant colony as a young boy. I’d stop and look at them in amazement. “WHAT are they DOING?” I’d wonder to myself, sometimes out loud. Unlike humans though, I’m certain every one of them knew EXACTLY what they were doing and what their jobs were to keep the colony running smoothly.

I live in an area of the country that reminds me of that ant colony I saw as a young boy growing up on a small farm in Western Kansas. Southern California, San Diego County in particular, is notorious for its citizens who drive fast, dart in and out of lanes constantly jockeying for position as if everyone is in the Indy 500, and the most annoying of all, tail-gating. Sometimes I wonder, “Maybe they’re saving gas?” After all, everyone seems to crawl up on each other’s bumpers as if they’re hoping to catch a draft, much like Indy racers. But, I’ll stop there. This chapter isn’t for me to discuss or complain about the driving habits of my neighbors. I suppose they’re just trying to get to their destination, especially their “homes”, as fast as everyone else is, if for no other reason than to walk in the door and say, “Ahhhh, home sweet home. I place where I can SLOW down and decompress.” The next day, the cycle repeats itself, nearly the very MINUTE they pull out of their driveways. From that MOMENT forward for the rest of the day, baby you’d better not be complacent behind the wheel. Otherwise, you’ll get run over.

Or will you? There’s a song originally made famous by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, later sung by two of my favorite contemporary artists, Michael McDonald and Toni Braxton, called “Stop, Look, and Listen.” Though it’s a love song, the context of the lyrics can be applied to the focus of this latest chapter of Ramblings just as easily. For those of you unfamiliar with the lyrics, here are some of the lines that can be easily applied in our daily lives:

“Though you try, you can't hide, All the things you really feel, This time decide
That you will open up, let it in…..It's never too late, too late to Stop, look, and listen….”


For the vast majority of members of my Gusto Facebook page, they’ll never read these words. Only a few, probably way less than 10% of its 900+ members, will ever bother to “stop, look, and listen” to this chapter I’ve shared on that page. But for those of you who have come this far, I say only this. It is YOU who I want in my life. Why? My guess is you are the type of person who takes the time to stop and smell the flowers, you stop and open doors for strangers, you’re friendly and smile at the cashier where you shop, you’re a courteous driver, helpful with your co-workers, sympathetic, compassionate, sincere, loving, and kind. All those qualities each of us hold dear in our hearts and wish for from others. Why is it we seem to have lost those values in our society? Is it because we are constantly bombarded with negative news from the news media? Our economy? The instant gratification so embedded in our culture?

I don’t know the answer and really, it doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that those of us who really take the time to “stop, look, and listen” to the world around us, keep doing so, regardless of what outside forces attempt to bury those qualities within us. For those of you who are reading this and may NOT be the type of person I’ve described above, let me ask you this question AND to pose a challenge. Do you value friendliness, sincerity, courtesy, sympathy, compassion, love, and kindness? Not ONE of you will answer no to that question. That’s a guarantee. Having said that, here’s the challenge. If you aren’t in the habit of PRACTICING these qualities in your daily life, do it. Period. Next time you see a homeless person, don’t look away. See them for who they MIGHT have been and still COULD be! Who knows, they might be intellectually superior to you, they may have been a person of some influence at one time in their lives, both with their families and in their careers. Talk with them, get to know them. Find out what happened to them. My guess is after doing so, you will walk away with a greater appreciation for YOUR life. But don’t stop there. Help them if you can, in whatever fashion. It doesn’t have to cost much, it may only take the gift of your TIME to “listen” what they have to say.

Keep going. Be AWARE of your surroundings and appreciate the beauty of life, and I don’t mean to just stop and smell the flowers. Smile at people. Offer them assistance with opening a door, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask NOTHING in return. The list is endless on how you can keep kindness alive and keep “paying it forward.”

But don’t wait too long, that ant crawling up your bumper behind you might run you over! I’m kidding of course. Just let him pass and smile as he goes by, knowing you have done one simple act of kindness, because you never know when YOU will need that person’s help yourself. That’s what God created us for, to Stop, Look, Listen and HELP one another.

“Gusto”

2 comments:

Sandy said...

I found your blog 3 hours ago, and I'm still reading your posts. The reason why, is because you talk to the heart of a person, and you write so well that it keeps me reading. I can identify with so all your articles and I hope you keep blogging & living out loud.
Sandy

Bond 007 said...

My main purpose is to turn this blog into a book of inspiration or perhaps a collection of short stories for mass publication. God knows there's enough pain and heartbreak in this world. People need lifting UP!