Giving blood and listening

I had quite an amazing little experience this morning, that reminded me of the power of attention, openness and connectivity that is always around us.

Just before entering the pathology clinic where I was due for a blood test (TB screening post Bangladesh), an oldish man smoking out the front told me, ‘I’ll be right behind you’.  Thinking he was perhaps a staff member, I entered the building. Walkinh into the waiting room, I was struck by the sense of foreboding – five old women hunched over chairs, withdrawn or frowning at me.  Whitewashed walls and new carpet.  Fluorescent lights. I shrunk into my seat and pulled out a book.

Then the man came in, sat down.  He started out a monologue about the number of police helicopters and booze buses, to no one in particular.  I felt my shields raise along with the others, preparing to ignoring such ramblings, and pass the necessary time.  His words soon started to become more captivating though, as he began to talk about his live.  He spoke about his run-ins with the police, how this was so long ago, now he can help them, the shame of the police interviews back then, and everyone’s right to keep a part of themselves hidden, and protected from the world.  He looked around at everyone at this point, ‘You all have these parts of you’.  I could feel the people slowly opening up, like uncurling plucked flowers that have found water.

Then he turned to me, and spoke about how I, probably a uni student (correct, still after 10+ years…), was going to inherit the world, but what a world that is, with all its social and environmental problems, that we (gesturing to himself and the others) have left it for me…

At that point the pathlogist called me in, and as I passed the man introduced himself as Steve, and I told him my name and shook hands.  After the bloodletting, as I was walking out I popped my head into the room and there was animated conversation, between all those inside, a completely different state and feeling than before.  I stopped to wish everyone a good day.  Steve replied, partly to me and mostly to the others, that I would turn out ‘all right’.

In our world we can too easy right off people who are ‘odd’, maintaining our safe barriers and just ‘getting by’ between our rushed errands.  But I can thank Steve today for reminding me of the power of attention and openness.