Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Calm Language

Today I'm at the office, lost in business, multi-tasking.  And as I rush through the reception area, there is a colleague standing there with a family of three; Mother, Daughter, Son.  They look lost.  And the colleague says "Bob do you have a moment?"  The family doesn't speak English, and she needs an interpreter.

I really don't have time, and thinking about taking the time puts me in a bit of a panic.  How will I get all this stuff done with these constant interruptions?  I'm so busy, I'm not thinking clearly, but I can't see it in the moment.  I put on my welcoming smile and invite the family into the conference room.  And I am transported.

Suddenly, I'm doing social work.  There is some tension between Mother and Daughter, and I have to concentrate to gather the subtle clues that inform my work of untangling the controversy.  In addition, I am speaking Spanish and interpreting, which takes even more concentration.  Quickly, I'm in the flow, working.  All other distractions fade and then disappear.  As the talk progresses, I find out the Sister speaks English, but the Mom doesn't.  When I use a few words of English, I can see the distance in Mom's eyes, and the cultural gulf that separates Daughter from Mother.  I make some jokes, and they both connect through laughter.

All is not solved, of course, but the tension is reduced, and we make a plan.  And as I leave the conference room, I notice all the busyness in me has gone.  And I notice too, that I am not as busy as I thought I was.  So I've received a free gift today; a moment in perfect concentration, a moment that set me free from my runaway thoughts.

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