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Hey You. Yes You. Listen Up.

Illustration of a petard from "Sketchbook...
Illustration of a petard from “Sketchbook on military art, including geometry, fortifications, artillery, mechanics, and pyrotechnics” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every day I have a chance to listen.  But do I?  Most days my mind travels off it what seems its own direction.  Loved One starts talking about the Bears game, he says something,  about a referee making a good call in spite of the announcers objection, and I my mind is off:  announcers…bad calls…I should call my sister, my brother-in-law is scheduled for surgery…my daughter has a pain in her leg that now goes into her right butt-cheek…commuting is a pain-in-the-butt…I have Christmas shopping to do…I wonder where are those sales announcements went to.

Listening is hard.  In my never-ending pursuit of self-improvement Peter Thompson’s “The Best-Kept Secrets of Great Communicator,” has an entire unit on listening.  He invites me to listen to the audio over and over because he knows I won’t get it all the first time.  I follow his advice.

Listening, Peter says, is one of the most difficult things to do.  Since the mind moves faster than the speaker, it’s often difficult to stay focused.  So he suggests a listening exercise.  Repeat in your mind, word-by-word,  what the speaker is saying.  For example:  If Loved One says, “I was foisted by my own petard with Fantasy Football this week,” to prevent my mind from wandering as in: when did Loved One start saying ‘foisted’, what is a petard, where did that saying come from, which play did Shakespeare use it in, I repeat what Loved One says inside my head.  My brain hears:  “I-I substituted-substituted some-some new-new players-players who-who looked-looked great-great.  I-I should-should have-have stayed-stayed with-with my-my tried-tried and-and true-true.: Yes!  Now I know why Loved One feels hoisted by his own petard.  Plus, I know a little more about football.

Whenever I catch my mind wandering, or if I’m have a difficult time understanding the speaker, I take a deep breath, and begin Peter’s listening exercise.  It works.  It works when I find the speaker abrasive, or I’m bored.  It even works when I have trouble understanding the words because of the speaker’s heavy accent.

My morning meditation from “A Spirituality of Living” by Henri Nouwen, focuses on listening.  The word listen, comes from the Latin “audire,” or open.  If we listen with full attention or “ob-audire” we show obedience.  I sort of rankle at obedience.  It makes me think of blindly following, never-questioning.  That is the antithesis of who I am.  That said, the idea of being fully attentive and open, now that fills me with possibilities.

My meditation goes on to instruct me:  “Real freedom to live in this world comes from hearing clearly the truth about who we are. “

Besides listening to others, I need to listen to the voice deep within my heart.  Who am I?  What am I called to do, right now, right here?  The opposite of open, surdus, closed and no longer listening, leads to a life of absurdity.  That rankles me even more than obedience.

Sometimes I fail to listen to myself.  Taking a new job, seemed like the logical, responsible, even obedient thing to do.  After two years of being my own boss, a steady paycheck, new friend, medical coverage, and paid vacation seemed like the logical, responsible thing to do.  After all, two jobs plopped themselves down right in front of me, when I wasn’t even trying.

Back to the corporate world I went.  It seemed like the logical, responsible road to travel.

At just about the same time, my friend Christa Avampato who writes at Christa in New York, went through a similar struggle.  I followed her Facebook posts and her blog, as she decided to continue on her free-lance journey.  I should have listened closer to her.  Yes, I made the decision to live in abundance.  Yes, I balanced my writing and my life in corporate America, and my personal life.  I had smaller pieces of all that nourishes and brings me peace, and more of those things that stimulate my mind and provide the creature comforts.

Hoisted by my own petard.  Despite all the logical advantages, re-joining the corporate world was the wrong path.  Not for me.  Not right now.  Did I learn anything?  Was there a purpose to a detour?  Always.

On my way home, my last day, a sad goodbye with new friends, I am buoyed by my favorite radio program, Studio Q and Jian Ghomeshi.

I love  the independence of working for a driven boss with a vision, clear goals and measurable objectives.  I love a boss who factors creativity into the work day, and allows time-off to go to the VIP Lunch and be the Mystery Reader for first graders.  That’s the boss I am.

Listen-listen to-to your-your heart-heart.  Trust-trust your-your gut-gut.  Have-have a-a plan-plan, and-and follow-follow it-it.  That too, my love, is a sign of obedience.

 

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