Hearing is different than listening. When we listen to another, we take in the sound of their voices, their words. But when we hear them, when we dig deeper than listening, we pick up on the subtle cues that were not present when just listening. When we hear someone, we get the fuller picture: the joys, the fears, the anxieties. Sometimes I wonder how many of our interpersonal communication issues could be resolved if we took the time to hear, rather than simply listen. It’s good food for thought.
How do we train ourselves to be in the moment? To be present in our relationships with other people, to fight the increasing encroachment of our phones, of the urge to grab our phones even when in the presence of other people? When engaged in conversation but our mind starts to wander? When sitting in shul waiting for services to begin, head down instead of up and smiling, trying to build relationships and connections?
It’s something I struggle with a lot, and it’s a habit I not only dislike, but one that I think is detrimental. When we are not being in the moment, when we are not giving someone our undivided attention, our relationship with them suffers. I’ve hurt people and had to seek forgiveness for behaving this way. I’m sure others have in turn hurt those they love with these behaviors. The less we “be” in the moment, the more absorbed in our own internal world we become, observing rather than participating. And that’s sad. It’s one of the main reasons I’m thinking of banning smartphones at our wedding – so that our loved ones are focused on us and our vows instead of being distracted by their phones.
Spiritually, more and more, I find (sensing a recurring theme here) that I’m struggling but very much needing to be in the moment of Shabbat. To disconnect, to engage, to recharge and to be in the moment, in the peace, and the quiet, and the rest that is Shabbat.
I have some teshuva to do in the context of my human relationships, but as far as my relationship with Hashem is concerned, I need to work harder at being mindful and present and just being in the moments, big and small and everything in between.
I’m sorry. They’re hard enough words to say, but when challenged to ask forgiveness for the less obvious slights, they become that much harder. It’s excruciatingly hard at times to not get mired down in thinking over all the terrible and not-so-terrible-but-still-not-so-great things you’ve done this year, evaluating the damage that your actions have done to your relationships. Sometimes the effect is obvious: hurt feelings, tears, anger, but other times it is far more insidious. Pulling back instead of engaging, not being present, not paying enough attention, not wanting to get involved, retreating into homework/the internet/other distractions. These are small acts, and their impact isn’t immediately felt, but over time, they start to escalate. Before you know what’s happened, cherished moments and rituals become memory, you drift a little further, until sometimes, more often than we’d like, we realize we’re strangers.
I’ve done a fairly honest accounting of my behavior this past year, and while there’s definitely some big things I need to seek forgiveness for, there’s a lot more of this latter kind of behavior that I really need to reign in. It’s hard – we all have busy lives, stress, other things to get done right this very moment, but I am resolute that I am going to make the effort. I am going to seek forgiveness for unintentionally removing myself or otherwise not being present in the moment with those I love, and to work on re-establishing connections, conversations, and moments that create more memories instead of having memories of moments that used to be.