Listening – Thankvember Sixth
At the moment I was trying to decide what my gratitude for this post would be, I heard my daughter playing with her Littlest Pet Shop Pets, a pirate ship, and a folding carnival playset. She was alone, and alternating between narrating a story, speaking for the pets, singing songs about their exploits, and laughing.
I knew right then that the thing I want to express gratitude for today is the simple ability to listen.
What I am talking about is not simply hearing, or listening, in a passive sense. No, I mean present listening, the type of listening that gives itself to what is being heard, wholly and without assumptions that get in the way.
When listening to my daughter, at the beginning of this essay, I was not attending to her words and the stories she was creating. That may seem like the opposite of listening, but, to me, it is not. What I was attending to was the tone and rhythm of her speech and song, the flow and bubbling energy between
her speech, singing, and laughter. What she was saying was private, and I wasn’t intended to hear the words.
So often, in life, I get caught up in the details: what was said, what I think of it; how I want to respond; who is playing their music far too loudly, with too much bass.
But I am more and more able, now, to listen in a more holistic way: to hear and appreciate the haunting song of the coyotes in the rolling woodlands behind our house, or the faint call of the owl wafting across the chill night air.
I am able to listen beyond the words people say to the meanings and emotions that run beneath them, to, in essence, feel what it is that they are really saying.
Perhaps it is this that is allowing me to hear my own soul more clearly, to hear what is truly my own, and what I have inherited, in whole or in part, from others.
It’s this type of listening that has helped me, at last, to separate those voices, and ask myself if the messages they are repeating are messages that help me to strive toward my personal ideals and purposes, or whether they tend more to attempt to instill feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and obligation I didn’t choose for myself, and which makes it harder to live my life as I choose.
In the process, I have learned to listen to others when they speak, not only to the words, but to the energy, tone, and body language of the speaker. I have learned to trust my instincts and intuition, which have always been strong. I have learned to stand for what I believe, even when I cannot express those things in language.
And I have learned to listen, much more of the time, to my beloveds when they speak, and to listen with an open heart and an open soul. Listening without also plotting my next words, as though the conversation was a script. I had not realized how often I did this, especially with my children. I still do it more often than I like. At least I am now more aware of it, and stop myself sooner.
By listening, I have opened myself to a far deeper and wider reality.
- Thank you, Mr. President – Thankvember Fourth (shanjeniah.com)
- Gray Matter: Why Listening Is So Much More Than Hearing (nytimes.com)
- Listen- Journal Prompt (toliveinspired.wordpress.com)
- When Was the Last Time Someone Deeply Listened to You? (space2live.net)
- Empathy can’t be taught, but it can be practiced (rootreport.com)