Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Second Play

When I find a song on ITunes that I love and then commit to spending the 99¢, I become like a puppy waiting beside the snack jar, pleading for his owner to cooperate. (By the way, the "¢" sign is very hard to find on the computer. For curious folk: hit NumLk, hold down Alt and type 0162. It appears!)

The latest song I downloaded was an old choral piece. Salivating, I plugged in my IPod first thing on my next car trip and anticipated the life-changing experience that I was about to have. I needed this song.

Tempo=slow. Well, maybe it's just for effect. The beginning needs to be a little haunting.

Tempo=still slow. This is not matching my eagerness. Are they going to get to the soul-moving section before I reach my destination?

The accompaniment is about to switch, surely the pace will quicken. But, no.

I listened to the rest, but with a bit of melodramatic disappointment sitting on my shoulders.

Usually, I sit in my car a good bit during my workday. I catch up on my charting, eat lunch, and sometimes have a few moments of quiet before I enter a patient's house. Regardless of the volume in the home or facility, it is always a loud experience. I have to warm up my ears as a runner warms up her hamstrings.

However, as the temperature has risen outside, I have been forced out of my sanctuary and into places such as the library for my charting and Cracker Barrel for my eating.

While waiting on my food at CB--I did well that day, only one biscuit with my meal--I played some game on my IPod that required little to no brain activity. I glanced up and saw a sign that was for a business in small-town Alabama. The internal conversation that ensued:

Hmm...Mom would like that sign. She probably remembers the business. She loves anything from small-town Alabama. If she and Dad were here, she would start talking about that sign and try to ignore me and Dad and our invasive conversations about the patrons and wait-staff around us. Hmm...speaking of, who's dining with me today? There's a man who has obviously been working harder than I. I bet he eats both his biscuits, but he should, he's sweaty, he deserves them. I only just had the opportunity to sweat in between the AC of my car and the AC of this restaurant. That's sweet, a nurse with one of her patients. (I didn't make that up, I overheard her telling a waitress.) And speaking of the waitresses, my young waitress is garnering some pretty snide looks from the older hostess. Hmm, I wonder what's going on there....

There might be something wrong with me, in fact, I'm sure there is, but the wait for my pork chop and green beans seemed much shorter as I watched the many different characters around me. I was eating a fantastic TV meal while enjoying a real reality show.

At the library the next day, I spread out my belongings on one of those great big library tables, ready to tackle my paperwork. I had several tables from which to choose; nearly all the other patrons were on a computer. I looked over to the children's area and realized that NONE of the children were up looking at books, they were each at a computer station. I could also see a section of bright yellow, one-inch spines on the shelf--ooh, Nancy Drew's.

Sometimes on the job, when I sit with someone, I have trouble listening with both ears. I will look for “easy exits,” speaking horrible things like, “I’m sure your daughter doesn’t feel that way,” instead of letting a 90-year old woman feel as she needed to feel, which was like she was a burden to her daughter. She’s 90, she’s earned the right to not only feel the way she wants to feel but to also express what she feels. As an active listener, my job is to tune out the surrounding noise, hold my face up to hers, and let her cry, hard as it may be to see and hear.

Look up, slow down, let her remember the thousands of hours that her hands put into the care of her children and grandchildren. Rejoice in the privilege of hearing how love and care helped her family make it through tough times and shine brightly in the happy ones. Let her feeling of being a burden fade into a feeling of satisfaction of a life well-lived and then into a fuller, richer peace.

A second playing:

This tempo is really slow, but the choir's harmony and pitch is perfect. How lovely. Let me soak in the notes and pause long enough to pay attention to them.

This time, instead of being annoyed with the pace I allowed it to take over my next 5 minutes and give them some quality. I felt the rest of the song develop and swell as was its intention.

Slow down, pay attention. Slow down, listen. Slow down, savor.

Allelulia. Amen.