Day 27, Are We Listening…

Yesterday on my run, it struck me as I thought about life, how we have forgotten how to listen. I mean really listen! Not the head shaking, pretend to hear, “oh yeah, I had that happen to me once, blah…blah…blah…”, but the open hearted truly hear what is being shared. Many things of recent have brought this forward in my mind, heart, and soul. It is a reoccurring sad exploration for me in our ever increasing chaotic world. Oh how I wish I could slow it down, like placing my finger on a record to inhibit its spin on the turn table.

Recently a youth committed suicide, while I did not know him personally, I know many life’s touched by this heart wrenching loss. I observed several people the other day when I was at the grocery store shopping with family members, yet I witnessed disconnect and harried go through the motions with no one really listening or engaging. At a coffee shop last week I took time to just observe interactions. A couple sat near me, he was chatting away at her while she stared at the phone in her hand. Close by a young man and woman were visiting at such rapid fire, I am not sure if they ever really listened or heard what the other was sharing. The list can go on and on…just look around, notice.

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“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” ~Ernest Hemingway

As a junior high teacher one of the days that truly saddened my heart was the day I asked the students, “How many of you have a dream?”, about half the students raised their hands. When we started sharing and discussing, half of those students had dreams driven by fame and money, which is not bad, however most did not love what they were pursuing. That left only a quarter of the class with true dreams for their future. What then unfolded is what made my heart hurt. The open discussion of how they were not excited to grow up, for they did not experience many positive happy adults. They expressed that seeing disgruntled adults and negative things in the world, made them not want to “grow up”. I must honestly say I can understand their powerful points, for I look around and observe less and less joy, while noticing more and more discontent.

Are we listening? Are we hearing the youth of today? Teen suicide rates are not going down. Heck, as I shared in an earlier blog, suicide rates are going up for all ages. Can we hear the hopelessness echo in that statistic? Are we willing to see and hear? Then can we admit that maybe a change would serve? What would happen if we changed something as simple and subtle as truly listening? Stopping long enough to really connect and hear what our children share, our spouse, our friends and family. What if when you went to the store you actually experienced connection with the cashier – shared mutual kindness and respect. How would that shift your next interaction. Could a compounded ripple effect be created where one kind completely present interaction could lead to more?

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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

There certainly seems to be no shortage of people talking, it bombards us from everywhere, all the time. Thank goodness that at night we still get some quiet, letting the body and mind rest. However, even here we are changing, many people require “white noise” to sleep. Are we afraid to hear? If we keep the static going what will we miss?

I love my life, for it allows me to listen and to hear truths beyond the words. I create space for others to come, share, and be listened to. I sit with an individual soul or a group to truly experience what is being expressed. It is amazing to see how this time will completely shift a person, as though they had not had a glass of water for days. So simple, so sweet, so pure and true. Connected sharing and listening. Being present with ourselves and others – a true gift that expands beyond us. How many lives could we save, if we remembered how to listen? To hear beneath the words, the actions, and masks. To really HEAR and LISTEN because we chose to be COMPLETELY PRESENT with an open heart, mind and soul. For me personally, nothing fills my being more than to truly share connected time with another, that moment when hearts share with hearts, when a stranger becomes a lovely being, a car ride with our kids becomes a shared time of laughter and banter, when a dinner party drops the facade to really connect…. Listening seems to be a dying art, lost on the waves our frantic disconnected scuttle. It is a muscle I shall not let atrophy, instead as I age, I find myself growing that muscle, expanding its usage and service.

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“Encouragement to others is something everyone can give. Somebody needs what you have to give. It may not be your money; it may be your time. It may be your listening ear. It may be your arms to encourage. It may be your smile to uplift. Who knows?” ~Joel Osteen

My hope for you today is that you will not only listen to truly hear, but you shall enjoy the fine pleasure of being really heard. A.C.T. (always choose truth) with a long enough deep breath, that you actually stop to listen and be present

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