Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

August 20, 2018

How to Listen

Filed under: Poems — dave9169 @ 5:57 pm

Listening is not just absorbing,
but if you don’t know better
start there.
Let your narrator do
most of the talking.
Listen like your life
depends on it,
because sometimes
and perhaps all the time
it does.
If there are elements
you’re not getting, look for small
gaps in which to ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to dig a little,
not because you’re nosy
(although that’s perfectly okay),
but because right now
this story has been entrusted to you
to understand.

If you are doing it right,
your brow will scrunch a little,
your eyes will get bigger or narrow,
your mouth will open or close,
your lips will purse or smile,
you might even laugh.
This is your body’s way
to show you are
following the narrative
as intently as you
would trace your
baby’s first steps.

Don’t try to change the subject
if it gets heavy.
If anything, concentrate even more,
because now your life
really does depend on it.
This is how you connect,
how you nurture, maintain
and help the troubled souls
of the world lighten the
darkness they feel inside.

It won’t always be easy,
you won’t always have
the right words to say,
but if you listen right,
the empathy will
show in your face
and provide a safe
path for the story
to find its way.

As you get better at this,
you will get better
at recalling details
and see themes emerge.
Keep at it and the arc
of a life begins to form.

When you remember details
and make connections
you can provide observations
but don’t be heavy handed.
Be kind with your questions.
Seek to understand,
not show what you know.
Don’t judge, and don’t assume
there is something wrong
with her because she
can’t see something that
is so plainly evident to you.

She lives her life deeply.
Shares her life purposefully.
She doesn’t always have time
to step back from her situation
to see things from a different angle.

That is what you are there for,
you alone have been trusted
with her story, a privileged
glimpse into her soul.
Treat that gift as kindly
as you would treat
an ancient thousand year-old
manuscript whose pages are frayed
and easily torn.

This listening stuff is
not surgery, but it does
require a similar degree
of delicacy if you seek
intimacy and depth
in your relationships.

And remember, you
won’t be able to help everyone,
but at the very least you’ll
provide a resting place
for a story that has waited
all this time to find
the right listener.


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