I love the differences in cultures that can only be experienced when you’ve been given an opportunity to immerse in them.
Reading about places is great. I can dream.
Being there is opportunity to make errors on a global scale.
We’ve just returned from Amsterdam. On business. Even seeing that in print makes me smile.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The weather was lovely. (We left Orlando with high humidity and temps in the upper 90’s.) There were flowers everywhere. Canals lace the city like flowing ribbon.
And everyone rides bikes.
It’s easy to understand why. The streets are narrow, there are places where trying to take a car would be foolhardy, and the time it would take to drive somewhere would be excessive.
Biking makes sense. A wonderful, healthful, fun phenomenon.
Unless you’re walking.
Bikes have the right of way here. Which was a necessary discovery. Getting from one curb to the opposite in a crosswalk seemed like a no-brainer. In the States, pedestrians have the right of way.
This wasn’t Orlando.
The bikers don’t yell at you or call you names. Both of which would be expected back home.
They ding their bells. And if you don’t move, they ding continuously.
I wasn’t prepared to listen for the dinging.
I realize I often walk around in a pleasant fog of my own creation. I’m either talking to or listening to someone I’m with. Or I’m daydreaming or looking about as I walk.
None of these options works when what I need to do is listen for the dings.
I was nearly struck by a biker. Or two. I caused several to veer into places they hadn’t chosen to go. I received a few angry stares.
All because I didn’t heed the ding.
That can sum up a lot of my life’s issues.
Choosing to listen can be a challenge. I find that often I’ll be with someone, thinking about what I’m going to say rather than really listening. Or I’m planning what I’ll do next. Or my mind finds a wonderful rabbit trail to follow all on its own.
And I get dinged in a conversation.
Those dings never produce positive relational results.
Jesus made a habit of reminding His followers to listen to His words and think about them. When folks asked Him about John the Baptist, Jesus explained that he was the one who would tell of the coming Messiah. Jesus Himself. People didn’t get it.
“He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15
Most everyone has ears. A gift from God to be able to hear. More often than not I use mine to hold up my sunglasses rather than really listen.
I need to choose to hear. Friends and family. Especially Jesus.
Maybe life won’t ding me so much.