I have a relative of whom I have said that once they had their own children, there was no room left in their heart for anyone else’s children.
I’ve realized my hypocrisy around judging the space in someone else’s heart.
As I was running around doing errands…no, that’s not true…several weeks ago when Buds and I were wandering at Cheekwood and stopped to take a picture for some teens, I realized it.
I realized I had stopped making room in my heart for strangers and their stories.
Making conversation with not-yet-met friends has always been easy, but gathering those stories that turn into stories and allegories and speeches, I’ve lost that. Or at least I’ve stopped watching for it.
The cashier who told me he never let anyone steal his joy; The tiny elderly widow on the bus who told me about learning to drive after her husband died, only to drive into a brick wall; The friend who found a way to forgiveness with a narcissistic mother before her death; The bank’s customer service rep. with whom I argued over $50, and who I was able to reach again, out of hundreds of reps., to thank her for her time.
All these stories I gathered over the years.
I kept wondering why these interactions weren’t happening any more.
Why wasn’t I finding/hearing/cherishing new stories?
It’s because I had closed my heart to them.
In my focus on my family (and myself), I was no longer finding a way to hear them.
Slowly the stories are returning.
We had the Amazon Prime driver on the night of Monkey’s second graduation celebration who hadn’t eaten for many hours and still had hundreds of packages to deliver.
We had the teens at Cheekwood a few weeks ago, split by some divide, but still joyful to be there together.
We had last night at Cheekwood, watching 3 white-haired white friends who seemed to have decades of connections pulling them together as they drank and chatted and laughed together.
And the 3 families, each with a preschool child, plus an infant; watching the dads and moms and the children all play and connect and stumble.
It felt like the world was alive again in some new way.
Best of all, I still had some of my favorite people with me.
I love this photo our niece took last night of Buds taking a photo of Yessa, taking a photo of me, taking a photo of a group of young folks that asked me to take a photo of them.
Stories that lead to stories that lead to people feeling loved and valued.
I have room in my heart for that.