To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.
The Saints Among Us
Here at the Profound Bartender Rescue and Preservation Society we get a lot of artists, scholars, poets, philosophers and Very Deep Thinkers. It is a very quiet place. Everyone is working on themselves; being centered, grounded, listening to that quiet inner voice, contemplating gratitude or thankfulness.
It is important to go on that walk and watch a sunset or feel the wind. We retreat into ourselves to try and find peace in this chaotic and ruthless world.
I am reminded of a guy I knew in high school. He wanted to be a rock and roll guitar player and locked himself up in his bedroom playing scales and chords. He practiced and practiced until he finally stepped out; ready to play. He was socially inept, stunted and grew his hair long to hide behind it.
The work we do on ourselves to live a profound life must fold into itself until you come out on the other side to engage in the world around you. While we retreat into ourselves to find peace, we must also bring peace to others in this chaotic world.
All that centering and grounding are practice sessions to re-view the world around us and we are training for the hardest thing a human can do: listen to another person.
Listening expands our understanding of the world. I promise you that listening to anyone is as enriching as going deep into Prokofiev or Proust or Plath. Finding someone who will tell you their story is harder than finding a book on a shelf.
I’m told that we do not listen, we are merely waiting for our own turn to speak. Imagine being married and hearing but not listening to your partner of thirty years; it seems to be the same-old-story but maybe it is being repeated because we never heard it.
There is something romantic about sitting alone by the fireplace with a slowly melting ball of wax and drawing some profound conclusion. I think, therefore I declare that you alone is severely limiting; your personal playground can only entertain you to a point before all of that perspective needs to be refreshed with different points of view.
The saints, the greatest of our time, did not sit alone thinking about it. They put themselves out there into the world to be heard but also they listened. It is the next step after grounding but sometimes we get lost inside ourselves. All of the great people that I’ve met in my life would rather listen to me and, trust me, I blathered away at my amazing self.
The fisherman with his quiet stillness has time to contemplate the world and his place in it. But, remember that he has also tossed out bait and is waiting for something beyond himself that starts with the hope of a nibble.