Listening hearts, walking the talk, and neighbourliness

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 21, 2017

Cochrane’s red shale pathway system brings communities together like thread for a string of pearls, a reminder to walk our talk about neighbourliness.
Photo by Warren Harbeck

I was devastated the other day to learn that a neighbour of ours had just passed away after months of battling cancer. I hadn’t even been aware that he’d been ill. Not having seen the active outdoors enthusiast for some time, I’d just assumed he was off on another of his exciting journeys. And yes, he and his wife were on another journey, but not the exciting kind I’d imagined.

I’ve written many columns around the theme of the listening heart, and I’ve really tried to practice that over countless cups of coffee in Cochrane’s friendly cafés. I’ve even written about walking the talk, and not just talking the talk.

But I guess I’d got so busy getting into my car and driving to the coffee shops to learn that wisdom, or hiding behind my keyboard to put words to it, that I’d failed to put it into practice right within walking distance of my own home.

I shared my distress with one of my morning coffee companions, Bill Popplewell, President of the Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce. He’s truly a very busy man, and if anyone had good excuses for not connecting with his immediate neighbourhood, he did.

Bill listened, then shared with me a habit that has benefited him greatly in his own desire to keep his heart open to those who live nearby. He takes frequent walks around his neighbourhood. (Having a dog certainly provides incentive.) Along the sidewalks and alleys he stops and chats with this person or that, and keeps in touch with their joys and sorrows.

Yes, I thought to myself, I was getting pretty good at talking the talk about the listening heart. But here was a man who took time out, literally, to walk the walk.

That afternoon I decided to do something about it. I went for a walk down my street, over to the nearby red shale path that weaves many of our communities together, and home again.

It was only a short stroll, but was it ever rewarding. I bumped into folks who used to live next door to us, shared greetings with other folks out walking their dog, and on my way home, encountered a tradesman just returning from work. A brief comment on what a beautiful day it was led to his description of a vivid sunrise he’d encountered not long ago. He even said he’d email me a photo of it.

So thanks, Bill, for reminding me to walk my talk about the listening heart.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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