“Are You Listening to Me?”

My nephew Kadence is growing up to be a handsome, bright, curious young boy. Ever moving and always busy, there are few things that slow him down and his smile never fails to make me grin in return. One day while I was watching him, I was a little preoccupied on my tablet with his yammering as a soundtrack. As I was getting more entrenched in my task, I felt a little hand on my shoulder. As I looked over, my nephew’s big forlorn eyes looked right into mine.

“Titi Jasmyn,” he asked with the slightest hint of frustration in his voice, “Are you listening to me?”

Not wanting to disappoint my favorite kid in the world, I put down the tablet and gave him my full attention. In less than fifteen minutes, he was back to building his LEGO castle and I was back to my book. While it was ultimately a short interaction for me, for him it meant that his auntie saw, him, validated him, and thus valued him.

Sometimes, I believe life does this. We get so distracted by the minutiae of our day-to-day routines while the bigger picture of our existence tapping us on the shoulder, pleading for our attention. We’re hyper-focused on our deadlines, gossip, and our ever-present social media feeds while remaining completely oblivious to that gorgeous sunset, ignoring that headache that has been raging for weeks, or spending quality time with our loved ones having long-overdue conversations. By focusing on what is ultimately inconsequential, we miss out on matters of greater importance.

When life taps us on our shoulder, we have one of two choices. We can either wave it away as an inconvenience and stay trapped in tunnel vision, or we can look up and look around at the miracle of life that continues to unfold around us. Even in the midst of what appears to be a chaotic world, there is still so much to appreciate if only we decide to heed the call. Today, make the decision to be present and ensure that even if it’s for 15 minutes, you listen and remind yourself that this life is worth living.

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