On Friday past I had to endure a terrible trial... a trial that pushed me to the very edge. Its taken me until today to be able to speak openly about it on the ol' nanolog... albeit... I did tweet about it and I also told the story on Sunday night.
My trial? I forgot my headphones.
You might not think this is a big deal... but it is/was for me. Let me explain.
I swapped jackets at the last minute on Friday morning and left the house without my trusted AIAIAI Y-Com iPhone headphones. As a result I was forced to endure the commute from Motherwell to Glasgow (Argyle Street) Station sans music.
I was occupied... I wasn't twiddling my thumbs or... dare I say... reading the Metro. I played "Toobz" on my iPhone... but that's an aside. My ears weren't occupied.
Well actually they were... with every flippin' sound in the carriage: mechanical squeaks... conversations... bleeding headphones (headphones that were bleeding sound... in this case BAD electropop music)... and one chap in particular who was determined to cough up both his lungs across from me.
Don't get me wrong... I did feel sorry for him - he was struggling with phlegm. His phlegm was dancing the hokey-cokey - it was in... it was out... and it was flippin' shaking it all about in his throat. It was horrible. He coughed. He spluttered. Unfortunately neither of his lungs did appear (that would have been cool to see) and this meant he had didn't have any respite.
Yes... I am making light of the situation... but it was genuinely traumatic for me. So much so... I ran out and bought a cheap pair in HMV when I got off the train.
I use them for the gym now... they block out sound nicely. I don't want to listen to the cheesy music they play in the gym... so I am delighted I can block it out now.
Later on... on the Friday... I was given my 6th monthly appraisal at work... and one thing was raised was my listening to my iPod during the day. It was suggested that they put up a barrier in the office... people couldn't just shout over to me but have to catch my attention. I countered this by saying music helps me focus (which is a struggle for me with my goldfish-like attention span).
It did... however... get me thinking.
One of the things I have been aware of... more and more... is the need for followers of Jesus to be aware of their surroundings and available in their surroundings. How can I do this when I put up barriers like my headphones?
We drive instead of taking public transport or walking... we sit with our headphones on or our noses in a book... we seek distraction instead of interaction.
How can we break down these barriers?
We have passions/interests/hobbies. Connect with others with similar passions/interests/hobbies. Connect... build relationships and shine your light. Share your passion... contribute to the community that surrounds that passion... participate! BE part of the community.
In a similar way... look at the communities that you exist within - think about your work or where you stay. BE a participant in the communities you exist within. Don't keep yourself to yourself... don't focus solely on your stuff but care about others. BE a team player. BE a citizen. BE a neighbour. Go out for lunch or for drinks or for coffee.
We also have rhythms of movement. Connect with others with similar rhythms of movement. Strike up conversations with your fellow regulars on public transport or in the spaces/places your frequent. BE a regular. Connect with baristas. Make the first move... say "hi"... talk about the weather or complain about the service (very easy with British trains).
Lastly... and most importantly... don't view people as a means to an end... but as an end in themselves... deserving of our love for no other reason than they are created in the Creator's image... just like we are.
I hope this makes sense? Its all about looking outward instead of inward... looking out for the interests of others instead of always seeking our individualistic personal agenda.
Thats my thoughts anyway... Tx