Can Ya Hear Me?
“Listen up now!” I plead daily with my high school Spanish classes. Standing in the front of the room looking out at a sea of disinterest is often discouraging. Perhaps if one day I were to dress like a rock star and color my hair purple, I might command more attention. Finally when my students do settle down, very few actually hear what I am saying.
God gave us two ears and one mouth for a very good reason. We should all try and listen more and talk less. But the act of listening goes beyond the trapping of sound waves and the subsequent reverberation in our inner ear. The actual words need to be processed and the true message needs to be absorbed.
“I’d say that what we hear is the quality of our listening.” (Robert Fripp)
When I was writing in my journal during my early days of grief, I was commenting on my inner most thoughts. Solitude and silence had become my two new companions. The ordinary, daily sounds were muted and the clutter and confusion of the hospital visits were gone. It was just me and my inner voice.
“The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears the truth.” (Gastin Bachelard)
As I turned up the volume to my “whispers”, I realized that there were important messages coming my way. No, I wasn’t actually hearing voices in my head. Unstable as I felt, I really would have been concerned if that happened! Instead, I was able to hear the subtext, the deeper communication. By peeling away the outer layers, I started to discover the actual meanings. These precious nuggets of truth were sometimes disguised by fear, vanity, or even over-protective love.
When my late husband mouthed the words to me, “Get married again” I was shocked by his request. Such a seemingly disloyal statement confused me and I dismissed it as an incoherent, random thought. His message stayed in my head and as the years passed I listened to it again, on a different frequency. He knew that his life was ending but that mine was not. He had felt my unconditional love and knew that I had more to give. His simple, unselfish statement was much deeper than I first perceived. Even on his deathbed, his wisdom was profound.
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” (Ernest Hemingway)
I challenge you to try and improve your listening skills. When someone speaks to you, look into his or her eyes, lean forward and make sure that you are fully tuned in. More than words are coming your way. There are feelings and there may be an important underlying message. Don’t miss the “whisper”! You might not have an opportunity to hear it again.