You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘listening’ tag.

No two people see the same thing.  But we are often so sure that what we see is so obvious that we forget this.

Way back before we were parents, my husband and I were hiking Boca Negra canyon in New Mexico.  I pointed out a petroglyph for him to photograph.  “Bird? What bird?”  I pointed and pointed and got testy and snatched off my sunglasses.  What the heck?  Where did the petroglyph go.

With my polarized glasses on, I could see it.  Looking through the camera lens he saw nothing of the kind. Then he added a polarized filter.  “I think we need to head back so I can get what I missed.”  Now he could see it all.

More often than not, the problem is now when I don’t see things.  At 5’8″ I am the short person in the family.  They can see over things that I can’t.  You’d be amazed how often that’s a problem.  “What do you mean you couldn’t see me waving at you?  I’ve been doing it for five minutes.”

But we’ve also learned that by comparing notes, we get a much more complete view of various things and this isn’t just because of the differnce of six inches.  My background is social sciences and humanities.  My husband is a business major with a passion for astronomy.  Our son is an engineering student.

And the best thing about that kid?  He’s perfectly willing to quiz a farmer or a logger about something.  “Oh, now I see.  Thank you, man.  Have a good day.”

Me?  I’ve always suspected that we built the Tower of Babel with our own two hands and our unwillingness to see what others see and to listen to their perspectives.

–SueBE

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Him: What’s bothering you?

Me: Nothing.

Him:  Why do you keep sighing?

Me:  I’m not.

Him:  You are.

After both my husband and son had conversations very like the one above with me, I realized something.  I sigh when my asthma is bothering me.  Long before the coughing kicks in, I sigh as I try to breathe deeply.  Now I know to look out for it as an early warning sign.

It doesn’t matter if the problem you need to address has to do with yourself or with society, step one is listening.  Only then will we learn that a problem exists.

Complaints about an election can indicate that people feel disenfranchised.

Concerns about hunger often point toward a lack of social justice.

Worries about the legal system might mean that we need to check to see that Justice’s blindfold hasn’t slipped allowing her to judge more harshly against one population that another.

Listen.  Listen deeply.  Even if you first reaction is to deny that a problem exists.

–SueBE

Color me befuddled. I could have sworn the voiceover in the commercial said that patients with “Twerkulosis” were advised not to take this medication.

Pause.

Twerkulosis? Is that something you’d see in a viral dance video? Viral in a good way, I suppose. Not like a contagion, or something. Of course, twerking at my age could throw a hitch in my gitalong. A twist in my pretzel.

Of course, what he said was: “Tuberculosis.”

Then I could have sworn a man in a conversation with friends spoke of being a “nocturnal octopus.” What might that be? A man who gets all handsy in the evening? That’s a bad thing, I would guess.

Oh. Wait. He said “eternal optimist.”

Mercy. This is why people get cranky as they get older. We start to have trouble with the senses we’ve counted on our entire lives. Hearing gets hinky. Vision gets blurry. And, of course, most people don’t project when they speak, so it can all lead to frustration.

It’s like a real-life game of Mad Libs. What random word will my ears hear? What is actually being said? Maybe this part of our lives is intended to teach us humility and those around us patience. Now, more than ever, the Golden Rule is a godsend.

Have you ever had a dream so vivid that you felt as if it was a message from the universe? It happened to me yesterday at 5 AM, so I bolted out of bed to write it down.

A lovely voice was singing to the tune of Al Green’s “So Tired of Being Alone” with different lyrics.

She sang:

When you’re out of here

When you can’t go on

When you feel like giving up wherever you go

And it bothered me. My first thought was to worry that my son might be feeling this way, so before he left for work yesterday, I told him about the dream and asked him if he was feeling like that. He said he wasn’t. I said, “I’m aware that I don’t always leave open avenues for our actually communicating. Often, I come at you with tasks or concerns instead of listening.” I asked the second question. “Do you want to talk about anything going on in your life right now?” He really listened to what I said. He told me he knew he could talk to me, and that he was okay.

Who was this message for?

In that patented Nicely-Noodgy way I have, I’m now in the process of cycling through my list of loved ones and contacting them. You okay? Had this dream. Want to make sure you’re feeling copasetic.

So when you ask the people in your life, “Are you okay?” and they say, “I’m fine,” ask the second question. “How are doing, really?”

Check on your loved ones.

Don’t tune out.

Check in with your soul.

Don’t check out.

We’d love it if you stuck around. We’ll stick by you. Let’s make it better, together.

P.S. If you need to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 800-273-TALK (8255).

Hope is passion for the possible.

This really resonates with me.  The ladies I blog with here already know I am an idea person.  I make connections and see possibilities.  It’s how my brain is wired. But I have also had to come to the reality that not everyone sees these possibilities.

That was the problem in trying to convince the powers-that-be that our church needed a new Facebook page.  Many of them don’t use any type of social media.  Because of this, they don’t understand how it works.  How did we solve it?  We put up the new page.

But sometimes I have to see the other person’s reality.  What is possible for me may not be possible for them.  That’s a hard reality to face when you truly believe in self-determination and doing things by your own effort.  But if I have access to resources that someone else can’t access?  Different possibilities.

Does this mean that everyone needs access to the same possibilities?  I hesitate to say yes.  It is too close to saying that MY possibilities and MY way are THE way.  I guess that’s why I think we all need to be in on the conversation.  I’m far too familiar with my own fallibility to think that my way is the only way.

And so, I remind myself to listen.

–SueBE

Our first house was about a mile from the university where I worked.  Sometimes I took the bus.  Other times I walked.  When I worked in archaeology, I took the bus and then I walked because we weren’t located on the main campus but through a residential neighborhood.  I was a lot thinner than then I am now.

When the time came around for the annual pow wow, I walked from work across the fields to the main campus.  One of the ladies pointed out that she had seen me walking.  “They sure do keep us down by not paying us enough to buy a car.”

I knew what she meant, not having a car can be a huge hardship.  But I actually enjoy walking.  It is my favorite exercise.  When I walk, I don’t listen to music on my phone.  I think.  I listen to birds and dogs and the wind.  Every now and again, I hear a still small voice nudging me to take action.

Walking can be a great way to orient yourself not only in this world, but with Him who made it.

–SueBE

Everyone’s got an opinion these days, and we each think only ours is right. We will insert ourselves into conversations in which we do not belong just to tell other people so. We’ll deny others’ lived experiences with our own conjectures about how we might have lived it, had it been up to us. And everything is up to us — it’s all out there on the table, ready to be judged, pawed over, analyzed. Nothing is private. Nothing is sacred. Nothing can be held out as indisputably true. Please, let us all take a step backwards and listen — just listen. Truth can only come when everyone is heard.

I say, “How could they, possibly?”
and yet possibly people do,
improbably and often.
It’s the old sin, snaking,
rearing up like an asp,
to ask: “Who knows
better than you?”
And there you are,
mouth full of apple,
mealy beneath your tongue.
You know nothing. At core,
at core, all of us know nothing.
Lock your opinion in your bones
until — and, yes, unless — you
find yourself kicking the embers
of the same conflagration.
And even then, know —
there were other ways,
other gates, out of the garden.

Consider the following: A woman decided that whenever she saw a man walking towards her, she would not deliberately get out of his way. She ran into 28 men in short order.

Consider also: During a prayer ceremony, a box full of beautiful, hand-forged glass beads was passed from person to person. Each bead was unique and connected to a prayer; the bead you chose indicated which prayer you would read aloud. Out of dozens of beads, I chose the bead for “silence.” Oh, the irony! I have always been a quiet person — a good baby, an obedient child, never prone to expressions of emotion or even strong opinion (except in my writing). Loquacious friends know they can call me, and I’ll listen for hours. So what was my reaction to choosing that particular bead? “Fifty-three years of being quiet, Lord. When do I get to speak?”

Clearly, the questions need to be asked: Who always gets out of the way? Who gets to speak and who remains silent? And why do we simply accept these answers?

When it comes to politics, the loudest voice wins. The voice doesn’t necessarily represent the majority; it doesn’t have to. If it makes its point loudly enough and with enough aggression, the others will back down. We are seeing this on a daily basis with our current government. Who is allowed to speak when it comes to immigrants and immigration? Not the immigrants themselves. Why? The story is about them. So why are their voices largely unheard?

Who drives policy and who is expected to step aside, even when the policy has nothing to do with the drivers and everything to do with the conceders? Why? Because the drivers have the power. Is that fair? Is that even logical? And if it isn’t, what will it take for the conceders to stand their ground?

I want you to think about this. Are you the person who steps aside or the one who expects others to get out of the way? Are you a loud voice or a silent one? And most importantly, how does God expect us to treat the other? Is God a walk all over people God or a considerate God? Whom did Jesus side with — the powerful people or the silent people (women, the downtrodden, the poor)? And when the silent are enjoined to be “civil,” to not make a fuss, is that what Jesus would do?

What we do with the answers to these questions will say a lot about who we are. It may even determine what happens to us in the next life. I have a feeling that Heaven is where the silent finally speak.

I’m starting to think I’m just not being heard. I send emails that get no replies. I ask questions that get no answers. I listen…and listen…and listen to what others have to say, but when I speak up, nobody has time. Or patience. Hello? Is anybody out there? Is this mic on?

We spend our lives — from newborn shrieks to deathbed confessions — trying to be heard. Why? What makes us so important? Nothing…and everything. We are, to ourselves anyway, infinitely important. But out there in the world? You’ve got millions of voices, all competing to be the loudest, the most heeded. What are the odds of an introvert winning that competition?

Once, long ago, a friend at work convinced me to join her in a primal scream. It was very satisfying…except to the company’s security guard who had no idea we were just trying to vent our frustrations. Oops.

If you want to be heard — really heard — you have to turn to prayer. Or poetry.

Even before I open my mouth
my confession is out there. Phrases thudding,
homely, unscrubbed as orphans. Pathetic, crude words
with sharp edges and blunt, dumb sounds.
Big, lumpy, dirt-encrusted words. They fall from me
like a curse, like the girl in the fairy tale
fated to speak in snakes and other slippery critters.
Who hears such ugly offerings?
Only one. The one we turn deaf ears to,
despite the shouts of sunsets, the “Hear this!”
of the scent of night jasmine. The one who calls us
to listen. For in listening, we will be heard. At last.

Admittedly, it is easiest to get God’s message, and get it right, when He’s super specific.  Give me words and give me the details, Lord!   But there are many times when I get a nudge.  Or something that is oh so subtle and quiet – a feeling.

These messages are just as important but in the business of my life, I wonder how many of them I miss.  I think I’m going to go sit in the other room and finish a knitting project.  Knitting is a great time to sit and listen.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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