I hear people talk about listening being an art form or a lost art.  *sigh*  I don’t actually see it as an art so much as a necessity of life.  Kinda like looking where you walk.  You can not do that and stub your toe, fall and break a bone, go off steep cliffs and die, walk into buildings…the list goes on and on.  Or, as Gallagher famously yelled for years “Look where your driving or drive where you’re looking!!!”  Listening, not just hearing, is a necessity of life if you decide to live in a way that keeps you from bashing into easily avoidable negative situations.  It can even improve things like relationships, jobs, educational experiences, even traffic stops for that matter.

And I would take listening even a bit further to the level of paying attention. In the past, say even just at the turn of the last century, stimulation from our surroundings was, compared to today, fairly limited.  Well within the scope of human beings to take in everything that was thrown our way and seek for more.  Life was filled with doing, not necessarily busy-ness, and we were at least trying to make sense of everything that came our way (to over simplify but not romanticise).  Now we live in an age where we are having to create and hone skills to filter all of the stimulus that comes our way.  Electronic, interpersonal, work, family, organizations, associations, media, schedules….our days are filled not just with what we need to survive as human beings, but with a morass of information, activities, and purchasing opportunities that are supposed to improve our lives and help us feel fulfilled.

The change from seeking interaction and stimulation to fending it off and wading through it has helped to create a numbing effect that keeps us from being able to put together incidents into some form of meaning.  We use habit to help us through all of this and unfortunately it has that problem of leading us to do the same thing over and over even though it doesn’t work.  And if we’re not paying attention we will fall into the trap of thinking that at some point there will be a different result.  A serving of insanity for everyone please, Garcon?  So, while it can be difficult, paying attention really shouldn’t be seen as a lost art, but as a necessity.  Listening to what is going on around you, as it were.  Making time each day to actually listen to what your kids are trying to say, making them feel heard, actually caring about what they are doing or not doing, liking or not liking, and not filling their days with scheduled events.  Let yourself be the biggest scheduled event they have on their schedule.  Hopefully you’re one of the things they love best in the world (at least until the teens and through their 20’s.  By their 30’s you’ll become a good person again, don’t worry.)

Same with your significant other.  They aren’t a staple of life, they are a precious gift, even when they annoy you the most or you’re having an argument or you a trying to refrain from doing something to them that will make you the next plot line on a police procedural.  That’s just a moment in time that will fade (if you don’t do any permanent damage to them.  That leaves scars)  So make time each day to actually listen to them.  Or pay attention.  A lot of who we are, what we mean, what we want to say is expressed in actions, not words.

Same with Spirit or the Universe.  If you keep doing the same thing and it doesn’t work.  Stop, drop, roll, then listen.  Not necessarily to the voices in your head.  Again, that insanity thing is something to watch out for.  But to all the things that are going on around you.  That job offer that you turned down because it wasn’t quite right, even though it’s actually perfect and its the third time it’s been offered to you.  That persistent woman who isn’t quite your thing, but keeps trying to be your friend when you need one the most.  That hobby you love but it will never lead anywhere, except that everyone says you’re an expert in it and you should write a book…..

Pay attention…listen to what is being said…your life is waiting for you to live it fully if you’d just stop filtering out the message.