The Lost Art of Listening

It’s loud here. I wake up every morning and before I’ve even had a chance to pour my cup of tea, voices and news and opinions and living in this world immediately bombard me. In response, I bombard them right back.

I speak up. I state my opinions. I let my own voice be heard.

I open up my mouth.

It seems fitting. If this is how it is – if this is what life is like here – then I don’t want to just hear loud noise from everything and everyone around me – I want to hear my own voice, too.

I combat noise with more noise.

I respond to a loud world with a loud life.

And some days, I’m exhausted.

It’s too noisy. I can’t take it anymore. It seems like we’re not really getting anywhere. Like perhaps not a whole lot is being accomplished.

The world is loud, so I become loud, too. And then when I get tired from trying to keep up, I realize that all of this noise isn’t actually getting us anywhere.

You would think with our tireless forward motion and the constant movement of our mouths, we’d be progressing full speed ahead into solutions to problems, expanded intelligence, something.

Yet, the noise has lied to us. We aren’t actually moving as fast as we think we are. The changes we hope to see come about from the voicing of our thoughts, aren’t actually being manifested.

Our constant speaking up and speaking out and making sure everything we have to say is getting said, is moving us a lot slower than we think.

I pause and think to myself about the last time something I said or some opinion I felt I had to share actually moved someone to respond, or actually made a difference in the world.

The instances are few and far between.

But if our voice is important (which it is), and our perspective should be shared, (which it should), then why does it seem there is no fruit from our efforts?

This is why: Because everyone else is doing the same thing.

It’s as if the whole world is a high school cafeteria. The four walls encase the chatter and shouts and high-volume voices of a huge handful of human beings all at once. The conversations can’t heard upon first stepping through the door, but become audible and clear when sitting down at a singular table. The closing of our ears to the distracting noise around us and narrowing in on the banter happening at one table, drowns out the gibberish of a hundred different conversations.

Only right now, no one is sitting together.  Everyone is on their own, standing or sitting by themselves, all loudly speaking out into the air, all listening to their own voices.

What’s happening is no one is getting heard.

Because there has to be someone listening if you want heard, and no one is listening.

Listening is a lost art.

I wrote this article first in my head, weeks ago. I mulled it over as the days passed. I first typed it up as a draft, only once, then walked away and let it be for a few days. I read it again, and my thoughts were refined. I listened for what I could hear in the world in the weeks and days as I thought about what I’m saying here. I learned a lot about people, about society, about the way things are in our current culture. And eventually, I came to the conclusion that I needed to speak my mind about this.

Speaking our minds isn’t the best route for everything in life. But for this, as I conducted an unplanned, spontaneous experiment of sorts, acting out the very things I had been stewing over, the conclusion was that speaking out on this was, in fact, the right course of action.

What would happen if, in a world of constant opportunity to share our thoughts, opinions, and perspectives at the drop of a hat through social media, blogs, and other avenues of technology, someone refrained from jumping immediately out there when they felt that had something to say, and listened first?

What would happen if the urgency to share with the world every single thing that comes into our heads, even the really important things, were lessened, and didn’t feel so urgent anymore? Like it wasn’t immediately needed upon first thinking?

What would happen if we realized that our voice doesn’t need to always be out there for it to still matter? That not using our voice every moment of every day, does not make it less heard or less important?

What if we let our opinions and thoughts stir and stew in our own minds and hearts for a little while before broadcasting them from the rooftops of our social media avenues?

I wonder if they’d change. I wonder if they’d disappear altogether.

I wonder if refraining from immediate sharing would act as a filter, weeding out the unnecessary and unrefined in our minds.

I wonder if the quality and richness of our opinions would then increase. If they’d start to affect people. If they’d begin to show promising signs of making a real difference.

And what if, while refraining, we listened to someone else’s voice?

What if we realized that we have a mouth, but we also have ears?

We could let our mouths rest a bit from the exhausting work of constant use, and let our ears sharpen their skills.

I wonder if we’d learn some things. If our minds, and hearts, for that matter, would start to expand to hold more than just our small viewpoint.
I truly believe we could go places together, we could change things, if we’d only recover the lost art of listening.

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