listening is a lost art.


     I remember as a young kid trying to figure out why my grandfather was always yelling. It didn’t matter what subject he was discussing or if it was a simple question like “can you get me a glass of water”? I finally got my grandmother to disclose the fact that she thought he was hard of hearing. He also would over talk anyone around him who was trying to have a conversation, simply because he couldn’t hear them. Once I understood the problem, I started yelling when I talked to him since hearing aids were out of the question because he didn’t think he had an issue. It seems that a lot of individuals that are on TV now with talk shows or news programs have my grandfathers problem with one exception, they don’t have a hearing problem! They shout, and over talk any one in their path.

     When did yelling become so popular. Oh, not everyone does it. But a great many do. Listening and responding thoughtfully to what someone is saying is fast becoming a lost art. It seems much more important to get your two cents in even if it doesn’t make much sense. A couple of weeks ago I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher and it was virtually impossible to understand what anyone was saying due to the constant interruptions from the combined guests. Whenever I watch Piers Morgan and he puts a panel of experts on to noodle on the subject he’s focusing on, I immediately turn it off. It would be informative if they were actually having a debate, but it often sounds like a bar room brawl. Why not hand them boxing gloves at the beginning of the show? Morgan does try to create some order amongst some of the more pugilistic guests, but they simply keep going as if their life depended on it.

    The yelling is often combined with an angry look. So many of these individuals’ faces appear perennially pissed off.. There are a couple of women, one of whom is a lawyer and seems to represent a lot of celebrities, who has combined a strident voice with a snarky look. Is the yelling and angry looks become the norm because in order to get attention today you need to yell? Let’s face it we’re inundated  with information overload and a lot of people are vying for the same audience  I either have to yell louder than everyone else or maybe I should just wear a thong and carry a megaphone. Or just maybe we should go back to being respectful towards one another and stop trying to be the center of the universe.

The many ways to contribute…They all connect us to each other

For most of us, the most powerful sense of meaning comes from doing something that makes us feel as if we’re making a contribution to the world. Making a contribution connects us to our community and our society as a whole, in a way that makes us feel better when we know that there’s something we’ve done to help someone else, particularly when that person is in need. There’s a reason that charity is an integral part of every world religion and most decent societies help other people  because it is very clearly, a vital component of life. There are so many ways to make a difference. Last week I was privileged to witness firsthand individuals who give their time and loving kindness to those who have served our country and have returned wounded. The facility for wounded warriors is staffed by extraordinary people who seem to have limitless energy and copious amounts of compassion. So often we get caught up in our own physical or mental pains that our world become incredibly insular. I have been struggling with joint pain that will necessitate two knee replacements. There are times when I rail against the universe as to “why me”? When I heard the stories of men and women, some of whom have suffered incredible trauma, it gave me new perspective on my own issues. My mother’s favorite quote was “ I cried when I had no shoes, till I saw the man with no feet”. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget how lucky we our since it is quite human to be involved with our own pain. One of the ways to sustain feeling fortunate about what life hands us is to find meaning and purpose. When we attach meaning to whatever we do or whatever fate befalls us, life seems to become more spiritual. Many of us become aggravated at the slightest inconveniences, taking time and energy to try to find whose fault it was or why we are always the one the proverbial bird finds to eliminate on. Perhaps taking a moment to stop your internal patter to think about one thing you appreciate about your life will help you reframe the situation. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes  by Barbara WInter“ When you are on the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly”.

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