Here is an excerpt from our new book – Someone To Tell It To: Stories of Hope, Joy, Compassion and Grace.

One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is listen to each other’s stories.
     — Rebecca Falls

“No one ever takes the time to ask me what I’m interested in. They have no idea about all the things I like.” It was a defining moment in our conversation. We were just meeting him for the first time. His girlfriend, who was with him, we already knew. It would have been easy to write him off. He looked as if he didn’t want to be there, as if he really didn’t care about talking to us or about his wedding. It seemed as if he was enduring this meeting to please his girlfriend and to humor us. At first sight, he was intimidating: tall and husky, like a football player. He wore a knit cap pulled down to his eyes. His face was bearded and unsmiling. It took some time to engage him in the conversation. But, then a song came on in the background at the restaurant where we were meeting. He quietly began to sing along. I was surprised that he even knew it. It was a song from the 80’s. He’s 26. It was on the charts well before his time. His fiancé looked at us and said, “It’s his ADD.” Her comment brought him back to our conversation. “Yeah. I’ve had it since I was a kid in school. It was always getting me in trouble. I hear music and then I am drawn to it.” One of us asked, “What kind of music do you like?” “Everything,” he replied, engaged. “Classical. Maybe we outta have “Moonlight Sonata” at the wedding. Rock. Pop. Billy Joel. Elton John. I love Sinatra, the whole Rat Pack. Musicals.” “Musicals? Wow. Which ones do you like?” 21

“Lion King. Cats. Les Miz. Phantom.” We never would have guessed it. He looked like one of the least likely guys to love that kind of music. He quickly began opening up more about his life, the wedding, their relationship, and how they initially bonded over music. He was enthusiastic and talkative.

That’s when he quietly exclaimed, “No one ever takes the time to ask me what I’m interested in. They have no idea about all the things I like. No one ever listens to me.” No one ever takes the time. No one ever asks. No one ever has any idea. No one ever listens. Here was this big, initially sullen-looking guy, his eyes wide now, animated, smiling, sharing some really basic things about himself and who he is, that rarely is he ever invited to share. How often do we write others off simply because of their appearance or their initial demeanor? How often, then, do we fail to make the effort to go just a little deeper, missing out on getting to know what they like, how they think, and essentially ,who they are? How many of us feel the way this young man has felt? How many of us feel like no one is interested because they don’t make an effort to get to know who we are? Everyone has something to say. Everyone has something to offer. When we simply take the time to ask and listen, even a few minutes, we can be wonderfully surprised about whom we meet and what they have to share. Who knows what might be revealed in the process. Who knows how you might help someone simply by showing that you care.

Who would guess that connecting with another human being, like this young man, could help everyone– including us – feel more alive?