The older, retired man stops in our office frequently this time of year. He is a longtime volunteer at our largest event–which he LOVES. A few years ago, he drafted his son to join him and now they spend every Father’s Day together, volunteering for our Festival.
The other 364 days of the year? I think he’s lonely. He’s looking for someone to talk with him when he stops in to our office. And, at this time of year especially, we’re so inundated with event details and daily to-do’s that we don’t often make time to spend with him.
One of my co-workers recently retired. She is one of those people that makes time to listen to anyone—and gives them her full attention. I think our volunteer guy really misses her. It’s clear he’s feeling her absence. And her compassion.
When he stopped in our office this past week, our staff was buzzing around … firing on all cylinders … in complete GSD mode (or “Getting Shxx Done,” as we say). He asked me if I had a minute for a few questions. I invited him in my office, answered his event questions, then grabbed some of the materials he asked for and walked him toward the door.
We were standing in the hallway chatting. Then he paused. He told me that he has “two cancers” and was diagnosed last week with sciatica. He didn’t know how much longer he could volunteer.
Suddenly, the to-do list in my head disappeared. I noticed the glacier blue of his eyes. I listened intently (wondering why I just don’t do that all the time). I told him we’d look forward to seeing him soon in a few weeks, if not before. And we said goodbye.
All day long, I kept thinking of all the small, individually beautiful gifts that each person has—and how sad it is that we’ve become so busy and self-absorbed that we don’t notice them. Once he’s gone, the world will be a sadder place without his glacier blue eyes and extremely gentle soul. But will we be too busy to notice this shift?
I don’t want to be.
I’m adopting the word (and, hopefully, the action to) Linger… “to stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave.” I want to pursue a life of noticing, paying attention, listening and lingering. And feel blessed for every single moment of it.