Yesterday I again listened to a few podcast episodes of On Being with Krista Tippett.
It had been a while since I’d heard this show and I was happily reminded of how much I get from the kinds of voices one can hear here. Ms. Tippett has an interview style that I really appreciate and respect. She elicits conversation that is comfortable, yet challenging and informative at the same time and this makes for (IMHO) a very valuable contribution to the depth, as well as to the span of my attention. My ability to listen.
Such as it is.
The two shows I listened to yesterday were ones my sweetheart had just told me about. Ones she had just heard. The first was with the poet/play-write Claudia Rankin and the other with psychologist Avi Klein and feminist-journalist Rebecca Traister. I’m not going to comment on either show or about any of these people or their ideas here. I’m hoping that you (my dear reader) will go and listen for yourself and then hear your own internal comments.
Perhaps even bring them to your conversations with others.
While listening to the above-mentioned interviews, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with a man who suddenly said something I didn’t agree with at all. An opinion I thought of (and still think of) as completely foolish… stupid even. It was hard to hear this from a person I’d just before been seeing as relatively intelligent, and for whom (just moments ago) I’d had a much greater measure of respect.
I said nothing.
I quickly processed the flood of judgements (and the feelings attached) that inevitably flowed through me and then… I listened.
I listened and when he paused, instead of speaking and responding with my own opinion I made an attempt to deepen my listening. Thus I do believe that I heard this man with a completely different voice. Instead of someone who was simply saying something I thought stupid and not worth much synaptic consideration, I heard someone who just wanted to be heard.
Like anyone else.
No, I didn’t change my new opinion of this man because I decided to listen more deeply. I still think the ideas he was expounding upon are indeed quite stupid. But they are not dangerous or ones that I might feel compelled to challenge (as with some of the topics discussed in the interviews mentioned above) and perhaps my attempt at listening deeper my have allowed him to hear himself. Perhaps not but what is certain to me, is how I showed up in that moment.
How I show up in the world is the only thing over which I can at least feel I have some control (never mind a discussion on quantum perspectives regarding the concept of free will) and more and more, I’m finding myself happier with how I’m doing that than ever before.
Perhaps however, I did have some other positive outside effect in this situation. There was another person listening to the conversation and this third person was responding to the stupid things being said with (what I saw as) feigned agreement. This third person did not actively take the conversation further, but gave verbal cues of agreement that did not sound to me to be sincere.
During the pause left by my non-response to the man’s opinion, this third person may have learned something from me. Perhaps I could have been modeling a level of listening for this person. Perhaps he may have received some other benefit in some way, perhaps not.
I don’t know.
What I do know is how I’m so very happy with how my sweetheart and I listen to each other. The above-mentioned podcasts of On Being is just one example.
We read, listen to and enjoy all kinds of information, art and entertainment and then share all we think and feel.
This is what most fills my day with joy and brings such excitement to my thoughts for our future.
So very blessed…