I’m not much of a talker first thing in the morning. In fact, I’m not much of a talker later in the morning, at midday, afternoon or at night (I’m what you may call the strong silent type, and I use the term strong loosely!). My wife, friends and co-workers are use to my quiet demeanor (and can usually tell if I am truly listening or focused on something else, which I will admit is one of my many faults).
“Did you hear what I said?” my wife often asks me, to make sure I am paying attention. “Of course, I am.” I answer (trying desperately to recall what she may have just said). “Then answer me!”
It’s funny, sometimes my wife tells me something and, although I am listening, she pauses and waits for a response. I think she’s done and start doing something else and she gets really upset. What? What did I do?
I get wary whenever I hear, “answer me” (It’s like I feel the hairs in the back of my neck rise and the sensation an inner voice is telling me, “get out!”). At that point, I know I’m walking on thin ice. What does she want me to answer? Do I need to say something? Can I get away with: “Ok,” “That’s nice,” “Sounds good,” “I’m with you,” “You’re the bomb!” “Way to go!” or “Count on me.” I usually don’t know what kind of response she’s looking for. Any ideas?
But, going back to my early morning silence, I usually get up by 5:45am (3 or 4 times a week) so I can exercise. How else do you think I can maintain this svelte physique? I either go jogging, which is a great way of just being in silence, praying and thinking, or go to the gym, which, aside from exchanging superficial pleasantries, is also a time for thinking and praying. Obviously, I like keeping myself company (I can be very entertaining, at least in my own mind!). Maybe, I would have made a good Trappist Monk…. Then again, maybe not!
Anyway, my morning workout routine is my time to get acclimated to the day, at my own pace, before having to deal with anyone else.
Yesterday morning, I went to the gym and somebody must have overslept because, when I got there, several people were outside waiting for the doors to open and talking. Apparently, one of the women had just returned from a trip to Europe and was very chatty with the others, who all apparently know her.
After waving hello to the group, I sat in one of the benches to tie my shoes (I usually just slip them on at home and tie them when I get to the gym) and waited for the doors to open.
I am in my zone (inner-self, peace, not very attentive to my surroundings. I guess I can add being selfish, distant, unsocial but I rather not).
After the doors opened, we all herded in.
Not long thereafter, Luis, a very gregarious, goodhearted and physically average-looking trainer (not your typical muscle-bound high energy character that goes around saying, “I’m going to pump you up!”), comes over to me to ask about my family, just before I start a set on the universal machine.
Luis is one of the few guys in the gym that actually goes around talking to people and listening to what they say. Sure, it may be part of his job to drum up business but he comes across very sincere. He actually remembers things people tell him, which, for me, is a great feat. Many times, I forget a conversation by the time the other person turns around (not a bragging point).
So after briefly talking to me, Luis starts training three women (ranging in age from early 30’s to one, that I swear, is in her mid-to-late 80’s). He works them out simultaneously on different exercise routines.
Luis is the kind of person that attracts people. I admire that. That is a quality that I strive for but often fall short of (especially in the morning). That is the quality of a Christian; demonstrating a true concern and interest for his fellow man (and wo-man). I'm not even sure where he stands spiritually since I have never approached the topic with him (I've been too busy not talking!).
As I finished my routine, another woman arrives, who I recognized as a regular at 8:00am morning Mass at my parish. I don’t know her name but say hello. Then, I noticed that after hugging the woman, who had been on a trip, she also joins the other women working out with Luis (He has the early morning training market cornered).
While actions speak louder than words, and there is something to be said about doing instead of talking, I realize that while in my morning silence, self-absorption and indifference (and to think, I like to think of myself as a man of faith, yikes!), Luis is showing me a thing or two about serving as an example of Christ to others; through caring (and thus love).