Some people are great listeners. They really listen to you when you talk. They are the kind of people that remember the details, even the ones you don't remember telling, and then think to ask you about them later. I'm always pleasantly surprised when I meet, or discover that I already know, such a kindred spirit.
I'm realizing more and more that I'm not a great listener that most of the time. Lots of us are good listeners when we really care, or when it really affects us, but not so much when we're preoccupied or uninterested. I guess I'm more often in the latter category, unfortunately.
Sometimes I "listen," only to realize that I totally missed something important, and must embarrassingly cover my error before it's noticed. That's no fun.
Lately, I'm terribly guilty of this with my students. When a herd of nine-year-olds surrounds me at 7:20 in the morning with stories they desperately want to share, I find myself on autopilot... the Wow's and Oh No!'s and Really?'s pour out of my mouth without my really taking in much of what they're telling me.
Today, one of the brightest little boys I've ever known, let alone taught, persisted in asking me the same question. "Have you seen Star Wars?" he asked a few times before taking off his backpack. I mumbled a quick, "Umm, yea, kind of..." (or something like that) as I managed the 129 things being thrown at me. He said something about the force being with me, and I gave him a fake laugh and continued whatever I was doing.
Later, he asked about Star Wars again and, once more, said something like, May the force be with you... and I think I responded with a weak connection to our recent science lesson about force.
Finally, as we all filed out of the room at the end of the day, he tried to bring up Star Wars another time.
For the first time, I actually listened.
"May the fourth be with you."
THAT is what he'd been trying to tell me all along. Today is May fourth. May the fourth be with you.
So, my friends, may May the fourth ever be a reminder to you and to me--listen when people talk.