Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Importance of Listening

Every day so much comes AT us, noise to our ears, chaos to our eyes, clutter to our minds. We're tweeted to and blogged at and status updated and podcasted and televised to and MP3'd and sometimes even spoken to by REAL LIVE PEOPLE until it's no wonder we're confused and exhausted by the end of the day!

In many ways this is wonderful and exciting. In others, it adds to the stress of daily life and in the middle of all of it, things get lost. Okay, you've heard all the complaints about civility being dead, the ability of people under a certain age to interact is another one but for me the real problem comes down to something more basic. We have lost the art of listening.

We talk over each other, we rush through conversations, we fast forward through TV programs which we've DVRed because we're too busy to actually watch and listen to them. We skim books, blogs, we post our own status and ignore the words of others. We throw prayer darts at God and rush madly on.

No matter how wise, or cute, or clever or important you think you are, life isn't a one way deal with all arrows going out from you. Our minister preached about the process of faith being like breathing recently. He made the point that anyone who just exhales will soon die. We have to stop and take in oxygen, take in the fuel of life in order to live to the maximum - it's a cycle. Prayer works that way. Relationships work that way. Work works that way.

Writing absolutely works that way! If you want to produce something worth putting out into the world, you have to stop and take in that world. You have to listen. Listen to conversations. Listen to advice. Listen to editors. Listen to other writers. Listen to readers. Listen to life around you. Listen with your eyes, listen with your ears, listen with your mind. And when you have spent some time doing all that, listen to your heart - you may hear some amazing things.