Look Up From Your Phone

I learned a serious lesson last week, look up from your phone.

It is perhaps more important than we will ever know.

I traveled to Ireland last week to spend a lovely few days with some friends on the West Coast.

I wanted to share with you my experience of my journey to the airport in the early hours morning when I was travelling to the airport.

It was 4:30 in the morning, I was in the back of the taxi half talking to a very friendly and pleasant taxi driver. You know that situation, we have all been there, in fact, I’ve observed many of my friends do this and have frequently myself been in the the situation where you are half engaged in a conversation with someone and half responding to notifications across social platforms, e-mails etc…

I was talking with the taxi driver (whilst multitasking) and asked him if this was the end of his shift or the beginning. He told me that later that day he was at the hospital and then he would be finishing his shift after that. I was sat in the back of the taxi (still ‘Tweeting’ or ‘Facebooking’ or something) and I asked him if he was picking someone up from the hospital .

He replied no I am going in for treatment, I was diagnosed with stage two head and neck cancer in January and I am going in for my first session of radiotherapy today. Immediately my phone went down and we conversed all the way to the airport about his past few months.

He was 47 years old (47 years young) and had had a very scary and frightening few months. He talked to me about a couple of surgeries he had gone through and how he felt very sorry for his partner (who he had only been with for a few months) because her daughter had just overcome cancer at 30 years of age. He felt guilty that she had to experience this all over again with him.

He said to me that the thing he hears the most when he tells people is that most people say ‘you have to stay positive’ and then went on to tell me how this is the last thing you feel like being not knowing if every second that cancer is spreading through your body or knowing whether you are going to live or die. I’m pleased it was dark, because at this point, having heard his experience, I had tears in my eyes listening to everything he had experienced up to now and knowing that as I would be landing at my destination, for a lovely few days away, that he would be undergoing his first round of radiotherapy.

I’ve not stopped thinking about him since. As we pulled up at the airport he walked to the back of the car and lifted my case out of the boot of the car and thanked me for ‘really listening’. I handed him the money for my journey and threw my arms around him, hugged him tightly and wished him good luck and that I would be thinking about him and hoping that his first round of radiotherapy went well.

I pray and hope that this man will be ok and that he will make a full recovery, but what really stood out to me was how he thanked me for ‘really listening’ and I thought to myself,  how many moments do we miss by not being fully in them? by half listening whilst engrossed in what we are doing on our phones?

In that moment, realising how much that conversation meant to him, I made a promise to myself to be more present, really present in the future. It was nothing on my part at all to put the phone down, to ‘really’ listen and to give him the respect and care that he deserved.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share this but I guess it’s just to say LOOK UP from the screen of your phone, whilst it may not seem significant it could mean everything to someone. It certainly meant something to him. I learned a huge lesson. Be more present, in the moment and really listen, you never know when your listening ear can make a huge difference

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