This is it. My favorite time of year. When hope springs eternal.

It’s easy to get lathered up on politics, no matter which side you are on, and make no doubt, almost everyone is on a side. But don’t let the rapid whirling and flushing sounds you hear distract you from the beauty of this day. Don’t let the bombs, the warming and the winning get in the way of appreciating the moment.

I borrowed a spanner from a real nice guy at a bike shop in Fraser recently. I needed it to jimmy a lock that was frozen at KFFR Community Radio, keeping me back from getting some work done. I introduced myself and asked for the pliers. When he offered up the perfect set, I asked him his name.

Before I walked out of the store I had already forgotten the generous proprietor’s name (Doug?), a sure sign of not being present in the moment. This is something I’ve been working on lately so I found it especially frustrating to have been so zoned out in what is an important moment. I mean, it’s a real insult when you can’t remember what someone just said because you had your head in the future and were not listening. Hopefully he was not listening either.

I’ve always struggled with names, and it takes a real determined focus for me to pay attention. Previously I’ve wished that everyone would wear name tags, thus alleviating my need to pay attention to anything but my own wandering mind. Even my mom should wear a name tag saying, “Steve’s Mom.”

When experts provide advice on remembering names, it almost always boils down to actually paying attention to someone other than yourself. I flew into Aspen from Denver last summer. I had a two-hour layover and sat at the terminal playing cribbage with my girlfriend and people watching. A guy pulled up with his wife and kid. The little girl had some figurines in a box, and she and her dad starting playing together. I was impressed with this guy. He could have been like the rest of the people, zoning out and importantly gazing into his smart, smart phone.

Wait a minute. This guy looks familiar. I joked to my girlfriend that he looked like Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Ah, but his beak’s not big enough,” I quipped.

They played on, and I could not shake the resemblance. After time I became convinced that it really was Ted Cruz. I was surprised that he was not surrounded by handlers or barking orders into several smart, smart phones at once. He was playing with his kid, very engaged.

My impression of him from the presidential campaign was that he was cruel. He was a hawk, ready to swoop down and take things away. I’d heard that he was very unpopular among his colleagues. I was would have expected someone exuding bitterness and meanness.

I was being goofy with my travel pillow over my head. I wanted to get a photo with Cruz but I also felt that it would be disingenuous to do so. I was for Crooked Hillary, not Lyin’ Ted. Why did I want the photo? So I could put it up on Facebook and show how I was clowning with “Lyin’ Ted?” Not fair once you are face-to-face.

Instead, I waited for an opening, went over and said hello to Sen. Cruz. The first thing he did? Ask me my name and introduce me to his lovely daughter. First impression? Nice guy. Wants to know my name.

Nothing puts someone at ease and invites further interaction than getting that name right. Obvious, yes?

Chester Santos is known in business circles as the “International Man of Memory.” He says that “when you can remember someone’s name, it shows them that they are important to you.”

I’ve got to get to work on this before my mind starts failing for other reasons than just self-centered distraction.

There are so many benefits to being present. Remembering names is just one of them. Having an intelligent conversation is another byproduct. Having intelligent conversations has many merits, and we must teach our children this fading skill.

Steve Skinner apologizes to everyone he’s met in the Fraser Valley so far. Reach him at