At a cardiology appointment last week.
I am there for support. To soothe nerves, take notes, hold a hand and ask cool headed questions.
As we enter the waiting room, I can feel my own heart shrink around the edges. Nice room, art on the walls, many chairs, tall check-in counters. The kind that separates elegantly the well from the not-so-well..
We find our spot with one empty seat on each side of us and we get settled for what could be a long-ish wait.
I watch people enter the room, make their way to the tall counters then look for their own waiting spot.
An older woman walks in pushing a walker. She looks around the room, seeming a little lost, and decides on a chair a few feet from us. She makes her way there, sits down with a sigh and I find myself unable to stop staring.
She looks scared out of her wits. Her right hand is shaking. Her eyes are darting from left to right to left.
Pretty soon an older gentleman arrives, picks up some paperwork at the desk, and delivers them to her. She shakes her head and pleads with him: "I don't want to fill out any more forms." "I know you don't sweetheart. But we have to." Looking exhausted, he sits on the walker and starts to shuffle the papers, maybe considering filling them out himself.
My mind is having a talk with my heart. My heart says "Get your butt off your chair and walk to her." My mind feigns outrage and retorts: "and then what? Do you think you can do something about this? Who do you think you are?"
My heart wins and my feet make their way right next to her. To her left.
Of course, I don't have a plan and my mind is having a good time with it all, rolling its little eyes.
So my heart takes over and makes me bend down and ask the woman if it would be okay for me to touch her. Will she think I am deranged? Touch her how? I don't even know the answer to that.
She nods and whispers "Yes please."
I place one hand on her back and one on her left arm. I don't move either hand, but instead, just settle right there. Within less than five seconds, I feel her relax from the inside out as though something rigid had suddenly melted. Her right hand is steadily on the arm of the chair. No more shaking.
Feeling the same softening inside of me (my mind seems to have gone out on an errand), I whisper to her that it's going to be okay. I say it once more.
I see her husband watching us and looking relieved.
When the nurse calls out her name, all three of us look up and they begin their trek to the examination room where someone, something, awaits them. As they walk away, she thanks me quietly, he thanks me quietly. I walk back to my chair.
So little happened. And so much happened.
No money was spent, no special skills were used. We were together for less than 4 minutes.
And yet. Yet, I truly believe that they walked into the exam room much calmer, much more available to receive whatever was going to be needed of them.
Which of course, planted an idea in my head: Waiting Room Hosts and Hostesses. Someone whose job would be solely to welcome and nurture patients and their families before big appointments. I see them in cardiology offices, cancer wings, surgery departments, children hospitals (oh yes, in children's hospitals).
Offer a cup of tea, a few seconds of eye contact, possibly a hand on the back if welcome, a genuine, non-medical question... some human connection.
Medical waiting rooms are scary, sometimes lonely places. We might be at our most vulnerable, whether we are the patient or the support person - the one who feels as though their heart walks out of their own body.
Chances are, we will all spend a few minutes in these environments. Or someone we love will. All of us.
Wouldn't it be nice to receive some personal kindness, during these moments? Some reassurance?
So yes, that's my big idea today. I am not sure what happens next, but I would love to read what you think about it.
Today, I invite you to dare to send your mind on a little walk when your heart asks to be the boss for a bit. I invite you to risk being turned down or worse, ridiculed when you know that doing nothing would be cutting off a part of you.
I invite you to write back to me and let me know your thoughts about this idea that has been turning round and round in my head.
Wishing you a lovely day,
A friend told me this story a few days ago and I am so enamored with it and its beautiful layers that I asked for his permission to share it with you.
A short while back, my friend - let's call him Paul - was getting his dogs out of the truck when they decided to make a little detour on their way to the house to boogie out down the street at as good a clip as their aging legs would let them.
It wasn't long before the pups were enthusiastically duo-barking at a gentleman taking his morning stroll up the street. Freshly recovered from surgery, the man was instantly terrified and no apology from my friend would help. "I do not want your apology. I want you to control your dogs" were his words.
I get it.
Doggies made it into the house and my friend felt horrible about the whole thing.
Later that afternoon, Paul saw the man walking towards his home and decided to meet him and apologize again.
What happened next makes my heart do funny things.
Hearing Paul's words, the gentleman told him that he had been doing some thinking and that he had come up with an idea he wanted to share with my friend.
He had thought that maybe it could be a good idea since he needed to take walks for his post-surgery therapy and since the dogs seemed a bit wound up, for him to ... get ready for this one ... take one of Paul's dogs on regular walks in the neighborhood.
The dog that had scared the beejeebees out of him hours before.
Paul agreed and ever since that day, the man has taken his new friend on a walk 2-3 times a week.
Can you feel the layers involved in this?
What comes up for you around this?
For me, the biggest thing, the one that sticks out the most is lack of ego. Let me add: lack of male ego.
Both men could have allowed their ego to take over and harden around the incident. When his apologies were thrown back at him, my friend could have puffed up and held an embarrassed grudge (as misguided as it may have been), committing to avoiding eye contact with a neighbor for years to come. The gentleman easily could have decided to avoid the house and to hold bad thoughts about the people who live there.
1) let a little time pass so that their "Lizards" would calm down
2) allow themselves to become vulnerable with each other. My friend by apologizing twice and the man by choosing to step away from the easy comfort of "being offended" and seeing the potential win-win in a challenging situation.
I love, love, love this story.
Today, I invite you (and me) to take some cool down time when things get heated and to consider what might live on the other side of the temptation to be - and remain - offended.
I invite us to, as Dr. Gerald Jampolsky so eloquently teaches us in his life-changing little book, to consider choosing Love instead of Fear.
SCARED OF THE SACRED