Have you ever noticed how some days can be so full of good things we feel like we want to explode and share our joy. We want to tell someone how wonderful this thing is, or how fabulous it is our child got into that school, or our amazing good fortune to get the last package of flushable wipes at the market. The list can go on from amazing to the mundane momentary joys that make up our days. But it seems natural to want to share the trivial things as well as the grand with another person.
Have you ever noticed how the same thing holds true when we have a gripe? The person who swooped in at the last minute in the parking lot and stole your parking space, despite the fact you had your blinker on and had just waited five hours (translation: 5 minutes) for the spot. Discovering you have been lied to by someone you trust. The scenarios in this category can go on too, but the fact remains, we want to tell someone. We trust we will be listened to, heard. Or at least we hope so.
It has been my observation that many of us want to tell, talk, share, but the listeners- those willing to hear, patiently attend to and actively listen are a dying breed. Where are the hearers? Where are those who patiently listen to the communicator, drawing out more from them than they anticipated sharing?
Where are those who are willing to joyfully hear what is being said? What I am asking for you and for myself…what is our listening capacity?
There is no shortage of those willing to shoot out one- liners, quips, comments, or lengthy semi-regurgitated rants, especially now where everyone is hidden behind their own private curtain. It is as if we have all forgotten that in the end The Wizard of Oz was discovered, and well…we know how that turned out. There is something to be said for being true to who you are, wherever you are, whether facing the giants or bumping up against the hecklers on social media platforms.
Given the propensity for misunderstanding with online activity and texting…we are entering an increasingly dangerous time for communication. Everyone is talking, tweeting, commenting, but who feels listened to? Hearing involves more than reading words on a screen. Listening has become a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. Is anyone really listening anymore or has all capacity for this activity gone with the myriad of devices connecting us, leaving us more disconnected than ever before, more on the verge of misunderstandings, miscommunications and worse- multitasking while pretending we are listening.
Who listens if ever, anymore?
Well, now that I have painted a bleak picture of our current reality, I would like to add some color, and a few brushstrokes of hope to the canvas. How I propose to do so, is through the offering of a blank page. How can a blank page do anything for anyone, you ask yourself. Well, I will tell you.
A blank page is an opportunity to make peace instead of war. A blank page is great practice to listen to yourself before losing your best friend. Or your mind. A blank page can keep a tight rein on words that potentially are poison but seem perfectly fine to share in the heat of the moment. A blank page is a beautiful place to discover you are not as wonderful as you think, but you are honest, brave, and truthful, which means you can change, grow, and become exactly who you are meant to be. The blank page can save a marriage, a life, or a soul.
Obviously, it is not just the blank page, but the pen that frees the words onto the page that brings victory, freedom, and power. That power becomes the capacity to give back the gift that one has first learned to give to themselves. The ability to really listen fully to another person, without the need to add, change, or edit them. Think about it. How often are you able to listen without judging, criticizing, correcting, or thinking about your response in your mind to the person you are listening to? It takes practice. My point is you cannot give what is not already within your possession. The more you fine tune your capacity not to criticize, judge and correct yourself in your own writing, will advance your ability to listen well to another. And if you and I can listen well to one another, it might make it easier for us to understand each other. And though we do not agree on everything, we can still respectfully part ways as friends. And if everyone took the time to practice with pen and paper, in the hidden, safe place of a journal, the world would become a calmer place. A place where listening was not a foreign behavior, but a precious sacrifice, a gift we could give to one another and in doing so just maybe the world would be a kinder, gentler version of itself. The act of writing, listening to oneself, and reflecting further on what one sees, and understands is both an act of caring and loving. It is a form of radical self-care that potentially leads to better listening, clearer thinking, and better communication with others.
Am I being idealistic? Unrealistic? Well, I can see that possibility. But I think it would be a better conclusion to pick up my pen and write my way to better listening. It has been stated, if one wants to change the world, one should pick up their pen and write. And so, I do.
If you’d like to join me Saturday March 12th in Wakefield, I will be signing my book “Journaling for Discovery and Delight” between 1 and 2 PM. If you would like to join me for a journaling session that will inspire and infuse you with the superpower to listen well to yourself and others – you can head to Rarities Books and Bindery for details on signing up! Click here to go there!