week #17 in an experimental year…

One of my rituals for each new year is to choose a word to influence me for the year.  My word for 2011 is EXPERIMENT. To support my EXPERIMENTAL focus, I commit to post the results of a new experiment each Sunday of this year.

My experiment this week was engagement.

NO, not that kind. 🙂

I tried to engage people.

I wasn’t completely random.  Every time I went into a store/restaurant this week, I tried to meaningfully engage the person who helped me or rang up my sale.  I gave myself these four rules:

  1. don’t be creepy;
  2. be mindful of not slowing service for others;
  3. no ‘weather-talk’;
  4. and no ‘how’s-your-day-going-talk’.

It was a BLAST.  Now, not everyone was ‘engage-able’.   Most were though.  And most of these engagements were surprisingly rich.  One of my favorite conversations was with a woman at a convenience store.  I mentioned how uplifting the music in the store was.  She showed me the CD she was playing and went on to explain that her son was one of the singers and that since he’s now in Afghanistan, the CD helps her miss him less.  She asked if I’d pray with her for him.  We did. Then we hugged.  And then I left with my coffee refill ~ smiling & humming.

His name is Antoine.  Hers is Vivian.

Then there was Stacy, the waitress who served my friend Robin and I lunch on Thursday.  I told her that her purple hair really worked on her.  It did.  She was thrilled.  She’d just done it the night before.   Technically though, the color is raspberry sorbet – not purple.  Close enough to make her day.   Mine and Robin’s, too.

Here’s what this week’s experiment reminded me:

  • Kevin Bacon isn’t the only one who’s connected to everyone else;
  • everyone loves to tell their own unique story;
  • giving them that opportunity is always worth the time and effort.

9 thoughts on “week #17 in an experimental year…

  1. I’ve really found it interesting over the past few years how incredible the “power of listening” is. If you simply just ask questions and LISTEN to people, it’s incredible how much they’ll tell you.

    And doing this has made me very aware of how much I want other people to ask me questions…..so it can be my turn to talk. Always surprising how many people will talk for the longest time and never think to actually ask a question. Sometimes leaves me baffled that people can be so absorbed in themselves that they never think to find out about somebody else. But all this ends up being a good test for me…..what’s my deficit?? If I’m in a deficit of needing attention, I find myself being angry that the other person won’t ask me any questions and give me “my turn” to talk. But when I can actually let go of all the ego and attention stuff, it’s always interesting to see how much I can learn about other people by just listening to them. When we’re full of ourselves and needing attention, that can be pretty hard to do. I speak from experience.

  2. in total agreement with both you and Tom about the gift of listening. to be engaged reminds me of a line from one of Paul Simon’s songs where he sings that the event was “like having a window open to your heart.” no shades, no protection, just bare. how beautiful, how dangerous to my sense of being safe and aloof from too much empathy.

  3. Ok ,so I cried on the Vivian story, but grinned huge at the Stacey story! We miss out on so much when we don’t engage with those we interact with. God created us all & I firmly believe He wants us to notice each others spirit & frankly we can’t if we are babbling! So love these experiments! When I grow up I want to do a blog! ;0)

  4. Tom, you nailed it. ‘other consciousness’ is a full time job, eh?

    Carol, LOVE IT! am off to find the song that holds “like having a window open to your heart.”

    Anna-Marie, AMEN! and since i know you get that ‘grown up’ is a state we never reach ~ there’s no time like NOW 🙂

    …thanks for your rich comments and presence in this little corner of BlogLand.

  5. Oh Sis I love this one. People are so touched I think by the lost art of connecting. Good for you-double good in fact!

  6. Late to the party, but so enjoyed this entry. After I read Depak Chopra’s Seven Secrets of Success several years ago, I put my intentions and good will in the world with everyone I met, whether it was an interaction or a smile and a silent blessing, I found I stopped being afraid/scared of people who were not like me. I’ve always been open to learning about other people–a lot of my undergraduate work was in cultural ethnography–but being more open and starting a dialogue changed the world for me. Its easier as I get older too, I have nothing to lose, I don’t feel competitive or judged as I have passed 60. I am so in love with life and the human race, I fear I may become on of those old ladies who wear purple!

  7. I really liked your experiment and reading everyone’s insights and thoughts. It seems to me we all want a chance to be heard and to hear!

    And a smile and a hug go a long way!!!!

  8. Ginger & Judi, so glad this post struck a chord in ya’ll!
    Rox, so appreciate your sharing how living into Chopra’s lessons has shifted your world. have a feeling you were a purple chick longggg before you graduated into your glorious 60s 🙂

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