I passed an old friend the other day while walking out of the grocery store. I hadn’t seen him in years and his body had betrayed him much since our paths last crossed. As I prodded him with questions, my hand on his shoulder as he sat on his motorized cart, he started telling me story after story of his travels with the love of his youth, now bed ridden and blind. The details of each story were more clear than my recollection of my own morning. I could feel a bit of jealousy in my own heart for wanting what he has lived with another. And then I asked him a question and his reply haunts me. I asked him if he had written all these stories down, and he simply stated, “I remember them clear as day.” “But does your family know about these moments that have shaped you and given you such joy?”, I followed up. With a disappointed look towards the ground he continued, “Nobody wants to know. Nobody has asked. Everybody is too busy and I cannot compete.”
With that moment I left in a cloud of reflection. Whose stories am I not present enough to listen to? Whose life am I not willing to learn from? Whose joys am I not willing to share? How can a man who fought in World War II not be given an ear? It made me first think of the elderly around me. Then I realized the scope is so much broader than that. Everyone around me has a story, a joy, a heartbreak, a glimpse back at a time when the world was in their palm. As my eyes open to each story around me, I burn to be the ear that a resigned heart needs. How deeply man longs to be known and even more so…..remembered.