Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Zen In the Art of Taking Phone Calls

Life is in the details. We ask big questions about the meaning of life, but can any answer we give to those questions make us happier than a good walk?

I have a close friend who refuses to take phone calls from people -- even her own family -- unless she genuinely feels like hearing from them.

More over, she makes no excuses for her behavior. She will tell you right up front when she does take your call that she saw your number on her caller ID the other evening, but didn't take your call then because she wasn't feeling like talking with you.

If I ever needed reasons to love her (and I don't need reasons), that would be one of the reasons I'd love her.

When I call her I know, if she takes the call, that she actually wants to speak with me. I don't know that with some people.

It's astonishing how many of us are willing to put up with calls we don't feel like taking at the moment. That is, we're willing to take the calls, but then all too often we resent the caller for having called us when we didn't want to speak with them. With my friend, I know that never happens.

I can't remember the source, but somewhere out there in this big wide world is a Zen poem that goes something like this:

I eat when I'm hungry
I sleep when I'm tired
How wonderful!

My friend reminds me of that poem. Not just in the intelligent way she takes phone calls, but in the intelligent way she leads her life. That is, her policy on phone calls is part and parcel of her policy on nearly everything in her life. As much as can be done in this often insane world, she "eats when she's hungry, sleeps when she's tired". She has worked very hard, and made some sacrifices, to make her life one that can be lived as close to spontaneously as possible.


jacquie4000 said...

Very nice Article Phil. I myself do this alot. I sometimes have a very stressful day at work and I just don't feel I want to talk to people so I don't pick up the phone. If I am going to talk to someone they should have my full attention. I hate it when you talk to a person and you know they are only half listening to what you are saying. So I remind myself I don't want to be that person.

Paul said...

Thanks, Jacquie! I agree we should give our full attention to people. Sometimes we're just too tired or distracted to do that, though. At times like that, it's a good idea not to be with people, if we can manage it.