I didn't realize we even had a service agreement so I waited dreading talking with someone who would, as part of their job, try to sell me something, something I didn't need that would benefit AT&T.
Finally I quit postponing the dreaded call and got Michael on the 2nd ring. Not wanting to be engaged I responded with a short "fine" to his obligatory-in-the-service-industry "How is your day?" This was followed by "What do you do?"
I replied, "I'm a therapist and writer" to which Michael said, "I'm a good listener."
In that moment, I didn't consciously want a good listener. Yet as the Rolling Stones' song goes: "You can't always get what you want but ..... you get what you need."
I got what I needed.
Michael being the good listener asked "What have you written?"
I told him I started with two screenplays that didn't go anywhere and that now I write about life. I should have realized in that moment a story was unfolding.
Michael told me he was a performance poet and was considering returning to school to get a degree in theater. I sensed this was not part of the AT&T script. Michael had just met a publisher at a recent performance who was interested in his work and possibly his writing a book. Michael was excited and I found myself excited for him.
This is when it dawned on me or as I think at times I dawned on myself, 'I am a storyteller.'
With an energy not present at the beginning of the dreaded call, I told Michael, "Actually I'm a storyteller too." I shared that years prior I put together a cd of my stories and sold several hundred. I shared the story of Judy Mae a woman I met Starbucks in '06 buying 50 of them as I was on the cusp of despair. Judy Mae was my angel at that time.
Michael proceeded to tell me storytelling was becoming popular. He attributed this to Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion. Then we got into books as he told me his girlfriend usually bought books for herself that he actually wanted to read. He had recently been wanting the collection of William Blake's works when his girlfriend walked in with the illuminated collection of Blake's works.
This gave me big goosebumps. I'm straight, but for a moment I wanted Michael's girlfriend at least to buy me books.
Then Michael was either prompted to get back on-script by a superior or another call came in. We went from storytelling, college, publishers and Blake back to my options for the coming year. Within a minute, I had a new service agreement for actually a few dollars less and I was wishing Michael the best as he was me.
I felt such appreciation for this soul who went off-script allowing me to get out of my funky, forget-about-me script. He boosted my spirit and helped me remember I am a storyteller. I hope I encouraged him.
I had a new service agreement with AT&T yet it felt like I had a service agreement of the soul this with young man I will never meet in the flesh. He was my encourager, my angel-in-disguise.
This unexpected interaction got me to thinking about service agreements on many levels. We as souls have "service agreements" with one another, don't we? These agreements aren't always pleasant. Those who antagonize might not be seen as angels yet when we allow them to refine us not define us, they are angels of a sort. I experienced this the day prior with the man I unintentionally made uncomfortable. His defensive response, helped remind me of who I am, just as Micheal's interaction did as well.*
Our ongoing political debates can be seen as a service agreement on a bigger plane. Souls with similar opinions and beliefs have throughout time tended to gather and take sides. I wonder what it would look like if we could find a way to hold the tension that comes with differing views. Rather than allowing these views to create polarization, what might happen if we somehow allowed them to stretch us and prompt reflection on how we arrived at our own positions?
Closer to home, family presents opportunities to consider service agreements. Times of challenge with those to whom we are suppose to be closest when differences arise allow the opportunity to evaluate personal roles, rules and relationships.
This summer I have personally wrestled with offering care to my mother from a place of joy versus obligation. As a daughter, my mother devoted herself to her parents especially late in their lives. She called her mother every morning at 6am to ensure she was okay and took meals to her daily.
Although we've our differences, my mother is energetic, has a heart of gold and is fun. If there were multiple Me's, one of me would be equally devoted as she was. There is only one Me. This summer I have realized I want my care to come from a place of joy and not obligation. This has required my talking with my mother as to my limits.
If we allow them "service agreements" help refine, define, clarify, discern and determine who we are and consider why we are here. Our interactions with others when seen through a lens of service help us discern boundaries, attachments, expectations and possibly shared longings and goals.
My interaction with this soul at AT&T who I will never face-to-face meet has left me with much to ponder. For now I imagine the Shift in our world if we became more aware of being here to serve others and more open to others serving us even when that means discomfort is stirred.
* The Musing about the man, my other angel of sorts is at this link: "Help Ever. Hurt Never."
-Dawn, The Good News Muse 18 October 2013