Back in the day, there was a Greek myth about Zeus creating man, how we were originally built with four arms and legs, two heads and so on, but fearing our power he split us into two pieces, cursing us to forever search for our other half as punishment evidently for being cooler than a God.
I’ve used this myth before in a few places, a best man toast, a couple other blog posts, and in day to day conversation with others generally speaking to them about relationship troubles and the purpose of relationships. While I can’t accredit this myths factuality to anything in particular. I’m saying that I don’t have the answer to whether this was true or if it was some made up social media post about people to be inspiring.
What I can talk about is the message sent here.
In counting all of the human’s attributes, they glossed over something much more important to the facets of a relationship.
We were born with two ears and one mouth.
Which means that in all things we do, we should use those ears more than we should use our mouths. All too often I find myself more willing to speak on things and tell others about my life, or how to fix their problems when the reality of the situation is that I should be silent and listening, valuing their time much more than I should be valuing my own. Even as I write this I can think of moments within the past two days in which I should have been listening to others and not talking over them. It isn’t intentional, I believe I have important things to say.
Of course, that is the root of the problem then, isn’t it? We each believe that what we have to say is valuable and others need to hear it. Yet, the information we have that needs to be conveyed will still be there at the end of a conversation and we must be delicate in framing what we respond with.
Have you ever been speaking with someone and zoned out, forgetting or not listening to what it is that they’ve said. I tell others often that when I’m working I don’t want to be bothered. If I am in my office writing or doing some other task, I can’t be bothered because if I am I won’t be able to regain my focus. This has led to more than one scenario involving someone I care about feeling as if I don’t listen to them when they are speaking. I wanted to argue this point here and explain that I had set up a time to work and a time to relax, if that can’t be followed what is the point of setting those things up? So on and so forth, but it shurks the actual responsibility of my friendship or relationship to ignore them through and through. It takes the issue I am writing about and turns it into a me issue, an excuse, not a them issue.
Should we consider ourselves a higher caste than another we would know that they would have no need to speak to us? There is nothing they could say that we wouldn’t already know, there is nothing they have to say that would bear any weight. We would be above them. This is the mentality of someone who chooses not to listen to another human for their own selfish needs. I’m not saying that there won’t be times where people will say things completely irrelevant or unnecessary to you but that doesn’t mean every word out of their mouth is spoken without purpose.
The fine details of our lives are spoken through the subtext of our actions and words, we convey how we truly feel or think through the way we speak and how we behave. It is much like knowing someone is upset because of the way they tell you they are upset. They could not admit anything and you would still know because there is a sorrowful lilt to the way they say it.
This is the purpose of our ears. Two mechanisms affixed to the sides of our skulls so that we may hear. We may hear the way others love. We may hear the way others hurt. We may hear others flashes of joy and excitement through their tone, despite the words coming from their mouths. We should be doing this twice as often as we speak, as well. Not everyone will come to understand this idea. There are people in droves who believe the things they say are really important and should be heard by everyone and that is okay, some people are just more important than us. Some people don’t have the desire to listen and understand or listen to feel.
Sometimes, though it frustrates me to no end, this even includes me. I know, hilarious right? The author admitting that sometimes he gets talking a bit too much. You’d think the downsides of my profession would inherently be something much less obvious.
Today, I challenge you to listen to another. Find something within them that is worth hearing, worth considering, listen twice as much as you speak and really devour the things you hear. Especially what you hear between the words and the sounds of the trees or rivers or cities. This world is rife with sounds of life and that is the most powerful notion I have felt in a long time.
We are here, we are alive. We will be gone one day and on my tombstone I’d like it to say something like, he spoke often, he spoke well + good, but the testament to the man buried in this ground is that he was able to listen through your words and hear the feelings you felt, the things you were afraid or embarrassed to say and he helped us bring them out.