Seeing might be believing, but listening is an Art form. Hearing a thing does not automatically mean understanding it. Leaning in to listen is the basic motivation, or desire to truly understand. Hearing and listening are two different things.
As we grow older, some of our senses fade. We accept that as one of the consequences of aging. And one of the most oft affected of those senses is the ability to hear. Medicare Insurance will not pay for hearing aids. They say that if they did so, all of their funds would be funneled into that endeavor and leave nothing for any of the other aspects that its beneficiaries might need.
When I first heard that piece of information, I was astounded. Our sense of hearing is dulled with age and is often seen as a sign of that reality. Yet, one of the main resources for elderly medical care will not provide for that eventuality because it is so common. Because there are way too many individuals who must deal with the loss, supplemental insurance must provide for it.
But, I’m not here to discuss Medicare Insurance. I do, however wonder at the possible spiritual and psychological corollaries within that reality. The person we most often don’t listen to is our self. Perhaps the fact that we do lose our hearing, or that that ability fades and becomes less keen, means we are finally forced to lean in and listen to our own thoughts and musings.
Although the socialization process we encounter as children, helps us to learn those things that allow us to become viable members of that society we inhabit, it can also unwittingly teach us that the last person we should listen to is that of our own person. Remember all those red inked correction marks in elementary school? They are meant to correct our path and guide us to understanding. However, they can just as easily become blocks in the process of knowing who we really are and to listening to that messy red-marked individual, because they literally and figuratively tell us that we got it all wrong. None of us really wants to know that.
Perhaps, old age and the loss of hearing are actually a built in means to correct all of that correcting. I taught writing for over ten years, and from that experience know that the most often ignored voice is the one called me. The hardest assignment for my students to follow through on was the one about not going back to correct whatever mistakes they might think they have made. That is editing and editing is not done until the writing has been accomplished.
Stopping to cross a forgotten t, or dot an i, means interrupting the flow, placing a boulder in mid-stream changes the current and its progress. What’s more, there is often some remarkable information in what might well have been scratched out by that persistent editor with red ink pen in hand. Learning how to relax and just listen is terrifically hard work, especially if the only voice one is hearing is ones own.
I truly believe that meditation is a difficulty for many because it means getting quiet and leaning in to listen for that still small voice. That one we sometimes refer to as Intuition. But, if we don’t practice those listening skills we can hardly expect that our intuition will kick in, and be heard, when we most need it to be. More than likely, we will instead grab that red correction pencil, scratch it out and try to proceed after cancelling the only help available.
Listening, putting all of our energies into really hearing and understanding what is being said is an Art form. It moves to an even higher level when it is aimed back at our own person. Can we afford not to take the time and energy to do so? Listening to our own person means we might have to wade through all that whining, but it can also mean that clearing that particular path will open doors to new ideas, concepts, and even adventure.
I have recently been considering a project, one that would entail a great deal of time and energy. And my ever persistent editor was very quick to yell, “but I can’t do that!” When asked why not, what I got were excuses and a finger that pointed back at the gaps in whatever abilities were needed to continue with the project. Looking a bit closer at those supposed gaps revealed a dream that had been sidetracked because of social implications at the time it came to the surface. It wasn’t a lack of ability that quashed the dream, it was society’s idea, at that time, about what was appropriate or not.
The above conversation took place while I was alone and engaged in a form of active meditation. Needless to say, the project is going forward, slowly and in small increments, but in that process I am learning a great deal about the Art of listening to my own person. I thought I knew a great deal already, but there is always more to be uncovered and old paths to be realigned with new ones.
Intuition plays an extremely important role in the creative process. Learning and allowing ourselves to lean in and listen to that still small voice plays an even more important one. It can even erase those messy correction marks that have scarred our psyche and prevented us from actively living whatever moments we might have left.
I wear a hearing aid, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hear my own inner voice. What and how do you take the time to lean in and really listen to that constant flow? Do you throw boulders in the path of your own current? Or do you still retain that red pencil, have it perched there in the crook of your outer ear?