“Stop, Look and Listen” – Sound Advice For Avoiding All Types Of “Oncoming Trains,” But Only Part Of The Battle

In the past two days’ posts, I’ve tried to shine a bright light on what I believe to be the importance, indeed the criticality, of our taking the time to STOP (i.e., step out of “our stuff”), LOOK (i.e., be sufficiently attentive to those around us to be able to identify those in need) and LISTEN (i.e., be “fully present” in hearing and appropriately responding to those needs).  Trust me, it’s sound advice for avoiding “oncoming trains” of all makes and models.

However, it occurred to me on my walk last night that both posts presuppose that we are the “ones being needed,” rather than the “ones in need,” when, in fact, Life, often and seemingly without rhyme or reason, casts us alternatively in both roles.  Thus, it’s worth also mentioning that the “ones in need” are not without their own share of responsibilities in this often complex dance.  Communication is very much a two-way street.  Our friends and loved ones can be the most observant people in the world and the best listeners, but, at the end of the day, their ability to make a difference begins with the willingness and courage of those in need to reach out, preferably in a healthy way (i.e., with written or spoken words), and seek help.

It doesn’t need to be much.  A simple, “I need a friend today,” or “I really could use some companionship and support right now,” or “I’m struggling” is all it takes (or all it should take) to evoke a response from our now “newly enlightened and sensitized” population of fellow earthlings.  If it doesn’t – say it again or write it down and hand it to someone or, if you must, “post it”.  It might take a time or two, but nothing can happen without it.  Simply put, we can’t expect others to read our minds or “guess” at the needs and longings of our heart.  We have to use our “voice” to speak them and then be willing to open our hearts, when, as I would hope will increasingly be the case, others step in to offer their unconditionally loving support.

For, as Bill Withers once said, with his usual simplicity, “no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.”


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