I have a cat. Yes, I know you’re thinking I must have a crazy house with all the animals and your right, it is crazy. The cat is named Charlie. He is 5 and still very persnickety. He was a birthday present for one of my daughters and has become the family couch potato. We try to get him to exercise by waving cat toys around, moving laser lights on the floors, and even bringing him down the steps so he has to walk up them a few extra times a day. But Charlie has made it clear to us that he is uninterested. He is rather independent and unusually arrogant as many cats are. Nevertheless, we adore him and daily try to engage him in more activities. The funny thing is, since the “stay at home” order went into place Charlie has made one big change. Charlie’s daytime sleeping space has moved. Rather than sleeping on his cat perch that we purchased for him, Charlie prefers to go to the room where my husband is. You see, everyday Charlie “goes to work” with Mark. Now I must be honest and say his style of work is awesome and one to be coveted. He stretches out across the bed that is next to the desk. Every once in a while, he’ll lift his head to see what the other voices are that come from Zoom calls. Occasionally he switches positions and rolls on his back for a short belly scratch, and at least a couple times a day he saunters out of the bedroom to his food dish, but he waits for my husband to go with him. They are buddies, or shall I say, they are co-workers. Mark is busy working, while Charlie is busy with his job as well.
Charlie doesn’t do much, but he does keep good company. He’s not opinionated, he doesn’t ask too many questions or give too much advice, he doesn’t need too much attention, but he does like the camaraderie. I would say Charlie is a pretty good co-worker. I would say Charlie knows exactly what he’s doing. Charlie has mastered the art of being present. He’s a good listener and he’s not distracted by much. He does not have another agenda, in fact, I’m not sure he has an agenda at all.
Now I have to be honest; Charlie’s skills are not ones I possess. Quite, calm, restful. But his presence is so appreciated. Rather than come to that space and demand attention, he comes into that space just to be together. They may not even acknowledge each other for hours, but they are together. I wonder if “being together “can be defined differently than I think? Maybe being together could be just offering someone the gift of presence, or maybe it means practicing the lost art of listening. Maybe they don’t need my thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Or maybe for today, they just need to be listened to. Sometimes being fully present is a gift in itself.
I am aware that right now being with someone is virtually impossible unless they live in your home. But I am sure we could find other ways to bless someone with our presence, or our listening ear. Who is someone you could bless that way today?
Brainstorm other ways you can be with someone who might value the gift of your presence.
How can we practice the art of listening well? Make a list of tangible steps to try today. For example, do not look at phone while talking to people.