Today, I subbed for another instructor. I’ve subbed for her before and noticed an older gentleman that would come in close to the time that class was to start. I perceived him to be more on the quiet side – but he would always thank me at the end of class. Someone had something to me at one time that caused me to form a preconceived idea of him which is something none of us should ever do. We shouldn’t form an opinion until we have taken time to get to know someone for ourselves. We even have to be careful of taking our friends’ word about someone and not making sure we find out for ourselves.
There were only two participants today – it’s Spring Break here in Knoxville area. And they were chatting about his recent trip back to India. He was sharing how he had attended a wedding that lasted for six days. He was giving details about the beautiful flowers and all the food and that each day there were 500-700 people in attendance. I was fascinated because I truly enjoy hearing and learning about other cultures. I started class and so the conversation stopped. I taught and then was cleaning up and waiting for him to get his mat and put his Equalizer away. I decided to engage him further in conversation and that one moment turned into an hour-long conversation that left me with my mouth hanging open as I listened to him share about his life and all that he has done. I mentioned to him several times that he needed to write a book and share his life’s story.
His name is Arun Arora and he was born in India but moved to German when he was 23 to being his work as an engineer. He’s lived in 20 countries – moved to the US about 34 years ago and has traveled to every state and every major city. He said Colorado is the most beautiful place in all the world in his opinion and lived there for 15 years (I hope I’m remembering all the details…I was listening intently and trying to take it all in!). He worked for ABB, which is a Swedish-Swiss multinational company that operates mainly with robotics and automation. However, he also mentioned building substations and transmissions for utilities. He’s consulted for many companies – and the list goes on. It appears as if he never married and he only moved to Knoxville because his brother became ill. Otherwise, he would still be in Colorado…skiing, skating and backpacking. I could have listened to him even longer because I’m sure there is so much more that he could share!
Our Y association in Knoxville is wanting us to share moments and stories that members tell us so I knew this was definitely a story I needed to share because I’m not sure very many people at that facility know any of this about him because he’s just one of those quiet people who come in for class and never says too much. I emailed the director of that branch and recommended that he sit down for a cup of coffee with this gentleman and block out some time just to hear some of the history and wisdom from this member.
It was truly one of those moments when I was reminded that every person we come in contact with has a story and that we need to look beyond the outward appearance and go past the accent we hear when they talk and be more aware of these eye-opening moments that fill our days if we will just take the time to pause and listen. My life became even better after spending one hour listening to Arun and hearing some of his fascinating life that he has lived. This meek and quiet man has had so many adventures in his 75+ years of life that he could probably write one book for each year of his career.
Did I have that one hour blocked for him on my schedule of the day? No. In fact, I had several projects that needed to be finished for my online classes and had planned on being home by a certain time. But as he began sharing with me, I consciously made the decision that I was just going to be present in the moment and listen to the life experiences and wisdom that I was being honored with as he chose to share with me his life. I do not take that for granted and feel very blessed and grateful when people like him cross my path and cause my life to be enriched because they’ve spoken into. You never know what one moment will hold and if we aren’t careful, we can miss it. What moments will you choose to act on?