I took the red-eye back from California, getting back here at 6:30 in the morning.
Lesson learned this trip: don't assume.
I got on the plane and was pleasantly surprised to see that the two seats in my row were empty. I though, "ah! a gift!, because now I can curl up across the three seats and get some real sleep, and my errant hip - actually the trochanter - won't be as sore."
Just before the doors closed, a young mother with two little ones came and took the seats. Baby girl about 6 months old in a Baby Bjorn carrier and a little boy perhaps three. The inner grumbles took over - you know how CS Lewis says that if you grumble enough, you actually change from a grumbler into a grumble? Not only couldn't I spread out, but I'd have cranky kids next to me. I was a grumble.
The mom smiled and said, "They're good sleepers." I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, tipped my seat back a tad, wiggled my butt in deference to the bad hip, and went to sleep. Slept like a log - a rather bulky one - until they turned the lights on right before landing. The baby was nursing, the toddler was still sound asleep, and there hadn't been a peep out of them the whole trip. The baby unlatched from mom, and looked up at me with a look of mild interest as if to say, "You doubted I was capable of being a good, sleeping baby? Hah!"
Sometimes I can be really, really clueless.
Last week, I met with a dear priest friend and talked about my progress on the discernment trail. He asked if I was a good listener, if people asked me to counsel them. I said that lots of people seemed to use me as a sounding board, and that one of the gifts of middle age was listened a bit better and talking less. He seemed pleased by that answer (aren't I a little old to worry about whether he approves of me?).
So I was out at our California offices, with a string of meetings stacked up with our senior execs and a lot of stressful things happening in the company. Each meeting was, in essence, a counseling session, since everyone is worried about the direction the company might be taking and how it might affect their jobs and those of their subordinates. And instead of just listening and giving them a safe ear, I kept trying to offer solutions.
The good news was that they were wanting to talk to me, and felt safe doing so in what is a highly politicized environment. The bad news was that I was trying to "fix" things.
Lesson learned #2: I have more to learn.
DS21 update: He is starting in an outpatient alcohol treatment program on Monday. Dear Lord, open his heart and his ears, so he can learn to listen at an earlier age than his mother. Keep him safe. Help him heal. Take away the power of the demons in the night. Amen.