Last night the blankets swallowed me as I tried to sleep. I drifted into a restful slumber only to startle awake at 3:00 a.m. Too warm under my layers, I kicked one leg out of my comforter to feel a gush of cold air. Fully awake, two distinct noises captured my attention. Inside our room, I heard the sound of my daughter’s breath, her deep snore indicating a restful sleep. Outside, I listened  to the guttural wail of ravenous coyotes who howled with definite purpose.

The contrast of these divergent sounds led to some reflection. Are we really pausing and listening? To ourselves? To our spouses? To our children? To our friends? In my daily life, I fall prey to tuning into activities that distract my attention from fully listening. In the regular flow of my life, I turn up the radio in my car, surf the web, play Words With Friends, and talk on the phone. These actions occur while pursuing another something. What dissipates to the background is the real listening.

Yesterday, while picking up my daughter from school, I turned my radio up. Halfway home, my daughter started asking some questions. I admit that I failed to hear all of her thoughts because my attention focused on these words blaring from my radio, “Love we need it now, Let’s hope for some.” I asked my daughter to repeat what she just said, but the moment passed. She told me, “Nevermind Momma, it is ok.”

The intersection of that conversation and my restless sleep prompted me to think about all of the moments where we fail to listen. What are we missing in those minutes and seconds? In those pauses are there deeper places we can connect? Society convinces us to move forward and fast and that creating busy, multitasking lives exemplifies a balanced existence. This thinking prevents us from slowing down, paying attention, and pausing.

We convince ourselves that listening to various soundbites gives us the complete picture.

Pause and really listen.

There is always so much more.