crosswalk white stripes on dark pavement

Oren Jay Sofer, an expert in mindful communication, tells the following story in his book Say What You Mean. It’s a true story about a friend of his who displayed mindful perseverance in connecting with a stranger:

“One afternoon in Boston, he met an attractive young woman while waiting at a crosswalk. They had a short but warm connection, and they exchanged numbers. A few days later he called and left a message. After a couple of weeks, when he didn’t hear back, he decided to call again. More time passed with no response. [He] stuck with his observations: he felt a genuine connection when they met; he’d left a few messages and hadn’t heard back. That’s all he knew.

“Over the next few months, he called a few more times, leaving short, friendly messages with an open invitation to connect. Months later, the phone rang. She’d been doing her residency, pulling all-nighters, and said she was so glad he kept calling. They went kayaking and ended up dating for over three years.”

Wow! Imagine if he had let his mind get carried away with thinking that she probably thought he was stupid or ugly or etcetera. Imagine if he had given up on calling. Imagine if he had called incessantly, or left pleading messages, projecting anxiety and insecurity.

This story is in a section of Sofer’s book called “Seeing Clearly.” Learning to see clearly is such an important life skill . . . one that I, admittedly, am still in the beginning stages of learning. So, wow! Let’s try to stay focused on real-world observations. Let’s try to recognize when our minds are running wild with stories that are most likely false.

And let’s show perseverance. I’m looking at this image of a crosswalk. Metaphorically, Sofer’s friend had to progress calmly from one white stripe to the next, each white stripe representing a short, friendly phone call, every few weeks. And that’s how he made it to the other side—representing the opportunity to date someone with whom he felt a genuine connection.

Of course, this story could have easily had a different ending. She might not ever have called back, for any number of reasons. But the friend put himself in the best possible position by seeing clearly and acting only on his actual observations, not his fears.

Today, I am working on seeing my concussion symptoms clearly. They are just symptoms. They will slowly subside, as long as I don’t get carried away with worst-case-scenario stories in my head, which can only lead to unwise actions. The wisdom here is: Liza, don’t freak out!! You’re gonna heal.

What are you working on seeing clearly today?