Years after my father passed away, it donned on me a lesson he taught me about music, but never put into words…

“Don’t let a song pass you by without letting it do what it is going to do for you.”

In this, and in this fast paced world where we always seem to be on our way to the next thing, it has caused me to pause and be present.

Being wired to noise 24/7, lets be honest, being present is hard.

Why are we in such a hurry?

One of the most profound meetings I have had with anybody over the past decade was with a Portlander by the name of Gary Smith, SJ. Gary is a member of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus and has spent his ministerial life in service to the poor and marginalized. In 2009 he celebrated 50 years as a Jesuit during his Jubilee Year.

His books Radical Compassion: Finding Christ in the Heart of the Poor and They Come Back Singing: Finding God with the Refugees had gotten my attention and I just felt like I would really love to connect with him and find out more about the man behind his experiences.

One morning, I had my chance over a coffee at a place called Tom’s in SE Portland.

The conversation was rich, real, refreshing, and challenging. But, it was his last words to me that moved me most.

When we were walking out the door, Gary, who had walked to our meeting was saying his goodbye when I offered to give him a ride home, it was his response to my offer that still causes me pause to this day…

“No thanks… I think i’ll just walk back and think about our conversation.”

In this and like in song, how often do we not let conversations go by without letting them do what they are going to do for us?

Seriously, how often?

With this, [and I’m speaking to myself] how much are we missing out in life by living in such a way?

I know we think we are being efficient or multi-tasking. Maybe for the short term, that is.. and that’s a big maybe. But, I am beginning to believe that in living in such a way, we are actually just cheating ourselves out of life and all that comes with it that make it truly rich.

My recent trips have further cemented this thought process as the pace in some of these places are so different. It’s like we have lost the all too important ability to ponder.

After visiting Nairobi, Dubai, and Beirut recently, my return trip landed me at O’Hare in Chicago. In this, I will never forget what I felt when I stepped off that plane and re-acclimated myself to that which we have all too often become.

Hustlers… not ponderers.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for the hustle, but when the hustle dominates are time leaving us no time to ponder… what happens then to perspective?

I shared with a friend recently seeking counsel on what to do in life a few ideas that pertain to this:

1. Be present

2. Do the next right thing

But, try not to begin doing the next right thing before you are done being present in the current right thing. Lest, the next right thing may just become the next wrong thing because you lack that which you should have just experienced and pondered that would have given you the wisdom to do the next right thing… the right way.

Perspective is a great thing. Don’t lose out on it by not letting it do what it is going to do for you… if only you would have given it a fighting chance.

Besides, when you are already on to the next thing before you have left the current thing… it shows, and you know what? You’re better than that and the people you are with deserve better than that. And to be frank… the people that will encompass that next right thing are expecting that which is better than that.

Life is once. Make it count.

Perspective is waiting for you, don’t pass it by.

Its funny how something so simple can end up being so profound.