May 27th, 2005
Comments Off
listening, speaking

Lately I have been perusing the interesting and informative Grist magazine. In it there is a great interview with John Francis, an enviromental activist who stopped riding in motorized vehicles for 20 years, and then stopped talking for 17. This article really got me thinking. What I find most beautiful about it is his realization after he stopped speaking that he hadn’t been listening well to others. I think this is something that we all suffer from, most often in conversation we are thinking about what we want to say, or comparing everything to our own experiences, and often just waiting to talk.
But is it possible to sit and truly hear what the other is saying? Are we just addicted to the sound of our own voice? Is it possible to be fully present with another human being, and just witness their words and thoughts? How often do I leave a visit with a friend and wish that I could have talked less, and listened more? I think if we can create a ‘practice’ of listening we might be more able to hear what is in people’s hearts, what they are really about, instead of just gleaning over the surface of their words. (Many times all we hear is words floating about in the air, not the actual meaning.) And it is a practice, something we must remind ourselves to do. I have a little voice in my head that says, “now is time to be quiet, just listen to what they are saying. hear them.”
I am always a little intrigued when I meet someone who speaks purposefully and thoughtfully, without excess, (as one who tends to want to fill in all of the blank spaces). I admit to sometimes being envious envious of their ability to take things in and respond with words that are meaningful and direct, not just shot out of the mouth like a firecracker, (as many of us seem to do).
I think that is why I like writing, it gives my brain time to formulate a thought and put words together slowly, but with energy. I am reminded of two things, that Lynda Barry writes her books longhand with a brush and ink to give her brain time to slow down and get all the words out, (otherwise the ideas rush past her and are gone.) And the second the “Book Rules” from my beloved Emily Carr…
“I did not know book rules. I made two for myself. There were about the same principles I used in painting–get to the point as directly as you can; never use a big word when a little one will do.”

Comments are closed.

Ad Free