Give the gift of your time and a listening ear

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The news is often of troublesome, unkind things. We can all make the world a kinder, better place.

This message was reinforced to me when I attended a conference in Europe. The keynote speaker was Ruud Veltenaar. Ruud is a TED X speaker and philosopher. Ruud shared that he takes his responsibility as a keynote speaker seriously, and tries to arrive at least two hours early to a venue, to prevent running into unexpected situations that would make him late. Often arriving two hours early, he spends that time finding a retirement home or nursing facility in the area, asking the receptionist if he could be directed to someone who has not had a visit in a long time. There are always plenty of people who need a visit.

During the visit, Ruud asks about the people and their lives. He gives them his time, a small and simple thing. He often finds that they have regrets. During one recent visit with a woman we will call Jane, he asked her who she missed the most. She gave him the name of a friend with whom she had a falling out years ago. They had not spoken in years, and Jane missed her.

As he left, Ruud asked Jane if she would do him a favor. She agreed. He asked her to call her friend and tell her that she missed her. And then he said, “After you say you miss her, just stop talking and give her time to respond.”

Jane did so. Two weeks later, the friends have been reunited and visits happen on a regular basis. Ruud’s message is that we can be the change for others.

I took the challenge to heart and visited a facility here in Wilson. I visited someone who I somewhat knew. I found out she did not have many clothes and was able to provide a couple of outfits in her favorite colors. She was thrilled. Her day was better, her outlook improved. She felt loved.

What a small and simple thing! We all know people who need someone’s kindness. We can all be our best and be the change for someone else. Let’s do that! Let’s be our best and change our world, just a little. It will add up.

Barbara Hansen