I was walking to my car in the parking lot the other evening, when a person came running to me. He pointed his finger in one direction of the parking lot and spoke something in Spanish of which I only understood the first word Senor. He was almost gasping for breath as he spoke. I tried to tell him I do not understand Spanish but he just would not stop. He kept talking non-stop pointing and looking in one direction. I think he was not finding his car or had lost his car, or maybe he was in an emergency and wanted a ride somewhere. For a moment I thought something had happened to my car, but then my car was in a different part of the parking lot from where he was pointing to. Anyway none of his talking made sense to me. After nearly a full one or two minutes of talking, he finally stopped talking and looked at me for an answer. Unfortunately all I could say was I do not speak Spanish and did not understand anything.
He muttered something giving me a stern look and walked away. I know I couldn’t help him, but again what else could I have done in that situation? I would have told him the very first moment that I do not understand Spanish if he had given me one chance, but he kept talking non-stop. I felt sorry for whatever situation he was in and hoped he would take our conversation as a learning experience to first ask the next person he meets, if he/she spoke Spanish before explaining his problem.
The whole incident kept playing in my mind even after I was on the road. If only he had stopped to take a breath and listened to me, the entire situation would have rolled out different. I felt maybe I should have gone back to him and asked him if he was in an emergency or at least try to understand what he was into. I was deep in my thoughts when I had this sudden brain wave. Maybe this situation was a learning experience for me too; an eye opener. Inadvertently even I may be doing the same when I am in a hurry. I talk so much, maybe non-stop, that I do not give the other person an opportunity to talk. It reminded me of a professor from my college days who would take every question slowly as if he is trying to chew on them, and would give a thoughtful answer. Maybe he was not interested to prove anything and so he did not have to be quick with his response. But as I think of it, the empty space he left between our question and his answer was adding a unique value.
As I thought about all this, I felt it was time I too cultivate this habit in me, if I don’t have it already. Maybe not just me but a lot of other people too. There is a need to focus on stopping the urge to talk, the urge to fill that empty space. We need to learn to live with that momentary empty space.
But, the empty space cannot be empty for a long time. It has to be filled soon.
Again, the empty space should not be there always. Sometimes, with some people, the empty space might actually become a time waste.
After all this confusion, I came to a conclusion. The empty space is others problem, not mine to resolve. I am good the way I am, unless somebody tells me otherwise :).
~Narendra V Joshi