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Home » Inspiration » Spiritual practices

Learning To Listen
by Oscar A. Rombola

Oscar A. Rombola lives and works with his wife, Gitta, and his son, Lucas, and daughter, Julia, in Toronto, Canada.

It is Monday morning and my alarm clock has not yet gone off, but I am already up, busy and preparing for the day.

As I dress, I become aware of the subtle difference between my shaving cream and the deodorant.... But I have to hurry. The kids are still in bed and I haven't started breakfast.

I find myself shouting from the kitchen incoherent messages about "socks," "under the bed," "ask your mother," and all kinds of early-morning slang born from busy parents in the 90s.

While my son is talking about the ninja turtles, I am thinking about the twelve o'clock meeting and the deal with that client going sour. My daughter is telling me she is not going to school today, or ever for that matter, to which I reply, "You have only one option, dear...."

Checking myself in the mirror I see myself half presentable and, grabbing my briefcase, coffee mug and two knapsacks, I, as well as our two precious children, load the family van with our bodies, minds, things, and ideas.

We travel the road to school with the glorious outlook of the perfect family on a Monday morning, each of us with our own preoccupations-ninjas, the office meetings, the lunch recess.

The simple events of daily life, I realize, become the means, ultimately, for improving ourselves as human beings and unfolding unlimited possibilities.

I turn around, I see my kids, and I remember something my wife told me about some crackers and apples in the fridge. That's it! I forgot the kids' lunch at home! What seems to be a scene from the American Lampoon, becomes a scene from my own family.

It often happens that I find myself determined to be a super dad, providing for everyone, so perfect in every way, that I find myself all wrapped up in my own world, my own preoccupations, all the things I have to do to make things go right. What was it that my son was saying? The ninja turtles are happy because their friends always listen to them. And my daughter's comment? She doesn't want to go to school because she wants to see daddy at night, and he comes home late, and she is too tired to tell him about her day. And what was it my wife was trying to tell me? You have been doing a great job organizing the job and all the school activities of the kids, and by the way, the crackers and apples are ready for their lunches....

It suddenly strikes me as clear as a bell: I have been missing something here! I talk to my family, they talk to me, we tell each other things, but, am I really listening? Am I really present? How is it that I run through my morning routine, not noticing what I am doing? Where have my thoughts been? I should be shaving when I am shaving, preparing lunches when I am doing them, listening to my son when he needs to talk to me, at his level; opening myself to the fact that my daughter is not pulling a trick on me but she needs me to be around more; acknowledging my wife's presence, support and contribution. The signals are all around me, but am I there to hear them?

What would happen if, for one day, I offer the gift of actually paying full attention to what surrounds me? How would my life be different if, when I am at home, I leave all my other preoccupations outside the door, and I am really present to each member of my family?

All these questions make me realize that I am learning. I have so much to learn, and I acknowledge how much I have learned from those who have been close to me. I learned from my grandmother to enjoy life, I learned from my parents about responsibility; I am learning from my kids about listening and dialogue and from my wife that paying attention and being aware of the simple things in life are the foundation for a better communication and consciousness. The simple events of daily life, I realize, become the means, ultimately, for improving ourselves as human beings and unfolding unlimited possibilities.


If you have a favorite practice that brings you back to a sense of participation and interdependence, please tell us about it by e-mailing us.




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