Puttering around my autumn garden, means often seeing events and conversations in a different light. And I see I misunderstood many events, and blew many opportunities for good conversations. Often for the very reason that Judge Judy – my current obsession – keeps telling belligerent folks: “Speak not! You need to put on your listening ears!” when television litigants try to talk past her opinions.
Is she talkin’ to me?
Many conversations I never began – or properly finished – because I opened my mouth and shut my ears. (Proverbs 14:29; James 1:9) Stopped up ears and flapping lips are usually symptoms of pride, impatience, and projection – impulses that ended more conversations than I care to remember. Pride and impatience may be familiar conversation-enders; but projection –thinking I know what someone is thinking or feeling – can stop more than talking.
I think back to times around the kitchen table, when I visited my parents who had retired early to South Carolina to care for my grandmother. Because I’d spent eighteen years with them, I knew what was on their minds. So, I blocked many conversational openings. Now -- remembering they would have been about my age back then – when they tried to make conversation, I am not so sure I knew so much about what they were thinking. I know I never asked them how they were, really.
One would think I’d get over the impulse to project as I grew
old matured. Sadly, assuming I
know is a hard-dying habit!
Sometimes my mother made a big deal about her poor health. I remember the night before she died, and how sick she said she was. I knew what she was up to, and I would not be drawn into her game. But when she died the next day, I knew I didn’t know how the imminence of death might feel to one worried about it . . . and facing it is no game.
Getting our garden ready for winter gives me time to think about more than trimming back bushes and mulching – and making sure a little colorful cheer is evident in the frosty flower beds. Raking and digging can turn up memories of some immature, intemperate, and ignorant comments to conversations that might have yielded better reminiscences, had I gotten over sooner my own pride, impatience and propensity to project.
Planting, seeds or pansies – digging in the dirt -- reminds me, now that I see so well after the fact, offer a hand to someone who might welcome a bit of help. Lessons learned the hard way – even if some of us are slow learners -- could make a good topic for conversation, if we are willing to listen to each other.
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. ~Attributed to Harry S Truman
Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.