When the Universe Wants You To Pay Attention
The other day at my day job I had a moment when the universe up and smacked me in the head.
We’ve all been there. Nearing the end of a crazy busy day and trying to cram in the rest of a project. The phone rings and caller ID tells you it is someone who for the twenty years has been difficult. You cringe a little and think, “No, not today. I just don’t have it in me.”
But you take a deep breath and you answer the phone, because you are the only person there, and really, if you don’t take the call now you will just have to return it later, so why not?!
A little background – this is a patient who even though we have not provided services to her for ten years, she is impossible to get off the phone. There is nothing really that you can help her with and she knows that, but she is going to call you anyway. When her calls come this late in the day, it usually means I won’t be able to leave on time. Despite this, I have always tried to listen when she calls. I understand she is older and alone and has some chronic health issues. But I am human and some days when you are completely buried and not really having a great day yourself, it is hard to pick up that phone.
But I am so glad I did.
I turns out she has a lung tumor that needs a biopsy. She will be having surgery in three days out of town. After talking to her for fifteen minutes or so, she completely knocked me on my butt by telling me she had just called in case something happens. She wanted to thank me.
Oh. My. God. Let me crawl under my desk and curl into a fetal position for even having a negative thought before picking up the phone.
She was scared about the upcoming surgery and treatment and she wanted to let me know she appreciated me always taking her call and listening to her.
I will NEVER again hesitate to answer the phone regardless of who crosses the caller ID! You never now what the person on the other end is going through. And you never know what your answering can do for them.
It’s hard sometimes. Work can be stressful and coworkers get on your last nerve. Life has its own stressors. Family and social obligations, while fun, can cause stress. All you want to do is go home and put on your jammies!
But days like today…
They make me realize that there is so much more to life than our own grievances. Even in the middle of the most difficult busy week, there is an opportunity for real connection to others. And that is why I will always pick up that phone, even when it rings a minute before I am “off the clock.” I will strive to put aside my day-to-day stressors and focus on the person on the other end of the line. Because sometimes they just need one person to listen and to hear them.
I didn’t have any answers for this person. Heck, we weren’t even going to be involved in her treatment. But she had found the people at the other facility to be too busy to listen and she just wanted someone to hear her, to connect with her and say “Yes, I get it. I would be scared too.” And to say we will keep them in our prayers, whatever form those take.
I walked out of my office that night thinking that all of the daily tasks and to do lists and problems mean very little in the grand scheme of things. The really important stuff can be found in each of these small connections, in each moment when we truly feel human.
Reach out to someone today. Put down your phone – hell, turn it off-and really hear what they are saying. Stop typing and working and shuffling through papers while you half-listen. Let’s connect with each other again.