The gift of slowing down

I’ve been waiting for the right story to tell to create my first Medium post. I found it today because it happened today and also because I found the clarity (authenticity, at least for now) in my own voice.

I’ll keep it short. But to make my point, I’m telling this story “upside down”.

It’s rare that I meet a stranger who has an immediate and meaningful impact on me on multiple levels. It feels as if I received an unexpected gift today — the gift of patience that comes from self-confidence (which for me always seems to be in short supply) that allowed me to slow my roll enough to ask how a stranger’s day was going.

It’s amazing to think of the sheer number of (for lack of a better word) pedestrian or transactional conversations we have with people — ordering food, talking to customer service, buying something at a store. In this case, I was returning at item at Fry’s Electronics.

The customer service agent who helped me was a 68-year-old Vietnamese war veteran, US immigrant, and proud soon-to-be grandfather, who (in what looking back at what time it is now) told me his life story in less than ten minutes. He talked about fighting in the war, being a political prisoner for nine years, not being able to find work after the war, living outdoors in the rain, and how the rain is different here. (It was raining at the time.)

All I did was ask him how his day was. And in return, this stranger gave me a gift.

No, actually I did do more than that.

I slowed down.

Slowing down enabled me to listen. Listening enabled me to connect and receive. And patience was only possible because, in the moment, I found the self-confidence to realize that everything else that I’m doing can wait for a few minutes.

I have another story about patience that I’ll tell another time. Patience is one of those lessons I continually look to reinforce.

I hope to share many more posts like this with you. In doing so, maybe I can use this social “medium” for the original purpose that was promised — as a medium of real, authentic connection.

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