What is this feeling I’m trying to explain?
Let’s start this way. I found a great video recently. I’ll just stick it here. You can watch it. I’ll wait.
You’ve probably read this before finishing the video (go finish the video!😡), but…
My takeaway is how I, as a person, need to do better at listening. Of showing empathy for others’ situations, and giving them the space they need to express themselves and feel heard. And I realized how instead, I’ve been taught all my life that I should talk, that I should have the correct words to “make things better,” that to be successful I should seek attention and get lots of likes and followers. Why, that’s what I’m doing right now. Writing this article because I have something important to say.
As Epictetus, the Greek philosopher, is credited with saying, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” I think this is a great quote. Listening is great. Taking time to be still and be quiet is great. But I think listening requires slightly more than a pair of ears picking up sounds. Because, after all, I do have two hands, so should I type as much as I listen, or as much as I read?
I went on a walk the other day, with my two siblings, and there were many points during our conversation where I caught myself not paying attention, merely because of some fantastic, important thing I was going to say when they were finished talking (hurry and finish speaking, it’s my turn). I wonder if they were doing the same thing. I wonder if my desire to say more, say it louder, arises from a fear that the people around me are too caught up in what they want to say next that they aren’t listening to what I need to say.
Ever since finding this video and trying to practice it in my conversations, I’ve had a strange problem. When I hear people express some difficulty they have (like having a bad headache, or smashing their thumb in a car door), and somebody responds with “good advice” (have you iced it? Did you take a nap? Maybe you need special computer glasses so your eyes don’t ache), I get so…bothered. All this injured person with the smashed thumb wanted was some sympathy. Some “oh, ouch, that must be painful” to feel like their pain is valid. Not “good advice” to make them feel like their bruised thumb is their own fault and they should’ve fixed it already. (yes, I have iced it. Did you think I was incompetent enough to not do that?)
My reason for writing this article was because I felt frustrated with the comments on a different article I read. Dramatically put, so many screaming voices all crying to be heard that they were right. I felt bothered with the “like” button that fuels blogs and followings. I don’t want somebody to say “great post! I feel [insert opinion here] about this topic.” I don’t want a simple “like” that only tells me “hey, I liked your post, come like mine.” …Or maybe that bit is only me being paranoid. What I want, deep in this heart of mine, is to know that something I wrote touched another soul. That these two hands I use to metaphorically bleed at the keyboard have reached somebody else’s bleeding heart, through their eyes, through their ears, and made some part of the bleeding hurt a little less. And yes, I want to be heard too. To know the things I find beautiful, perhaps not beautiful to anyone else, can at least be understood as beautiful to me.
And, maybe, the greatest gift of all: sharing with each other the beautiful things and using our hands, our words, to craft them into art bigger than ourselves.