Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Not Why

The number one age old question is "Why am I here?" I don't get it. It's a question that has gone unanswered for millennia because there is no answer, yet humans persist with it. Why ask why. Wouldn't the better question be, "What do I want while I'm here?" Yes. That one has an answer, a big answer, and it's not as individual as you might think.

See, I figured out the answer last week. Actually, it took no figuring. It merely took standing still and getting hit by a tremendous jolt of Ah-Hah!

It came to me in the midst of a quiet conversation and a rather electric pause. We all want the exact same thing. From the tiniest squalling infant to the wearily sighing geriatric, we want the same thing. From the most destitute soul to the wealthiest magnate, we want the same thing.

We want to be heard.

And it has nothing to do with conversation.

We want to be heard in the way we smile and nod, in the way we cook, the way we sweep the floor, in our creative ventures, in our number-crunching, in a touch, in hauling trash... in everything. Whether the sound we make is a whisper or a shout, we want to be heard.

Because in being heard, we signify. And that is exactly, exactly what the hokey pokey is all about.

So it perplexes me that we won't stop and listen to each other, that we opt for obtuse when it comes to understanding another person's point of view, that we're so damned quick to judge and condemn, and recapitulate how we feel. It is impossible for another's thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. to make us and our own ideals insignificant.

We don't need someone else to make us feel insignificant. We're pretty good at doing that to ourselves all by our lonesome. So cut people some slack. Shut up and listen. Really. Just.... shut up. Especially listen when they're not saying a thing, because that's when the really good shit is revealed.

Want to know what else is cool? When we shut up and listen to other people, we find out all kinds of interesting stuff about ourselves. But when we attempt to shut other people down (successfully or not), we're pretty much denying ourselves full use of all the crayons in the box. Think about it. People get all gushy over Thomas Kinkade paintings (which I happen to think are fairly pedestrian, but that's neither here nor there) and his use of light.... but it's not what he does with the light in his paintings that's so significant. Anyone can paint a picture window glowing with light. His depth comes in what he does with the shadows, with out which, the light would be a simple boring glow.

Shut up and listen. To everything. Forget what you think, what you know, and what you think you know. Just shut up and listen.


  1. Brilliant, as always, Barb! And with that, I will be brief ... so I can take more time to simply listen.

  2. Spot on. Listening (to self as well as to others) feels much better than talking. I say that as a professional talker...which is probably why the daggone job exhausts me so.


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