the how of listening

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Radical change is in our face every day. How do we dance with this? How do we reach down through the swirling emotions and opinions that this insecurity brings into a quieter space, a space where we can see a little further, love a little deeper, laugh a little louder… the clouds come and go but behind them the sky is always blue. ~ Antony Osler

There is a place at the edge of town here in Bozeman, called Peets Hill. If you climb to the very top, you can see for miles in every direction. With each turn, you’ll get a different story of the town… And if I was to craft a simple story from what I saw looking in any one direction, I could not call it truth. And yet, it would not entirely be a lie.

The top of Peets Hill is a quiet space where I can see beyond the clouds to that blue sky.

It's not just radical change we must dance with these days, it’s language that bullies and soars out into the ether via technology, under the guise of truth. Language meant to wound, influence, harm...

How do I dance with this?

My impulse is to find words and use my full-loud voice to respond, to call out lies for what they are, because silence is not always the higher ground. Sometimes, it is compliance.

And yet… as one who coaches others towards using their authentic voice, I have come to believe the first act of speaking is listening.

There is a how of listening to practice, so that language is aimed either towards or against. 

Listening is not merely hearing what is spoken, it’s conjuring the ability to listen from a point of view that is beyond opinion.

Opinions are not unerring truths. They are filled with inaccuracies because there is so much we can never truly know about one another. It is not possible to comprehend the vast landscape of living with only two eyes.

The how of listening takes into account that I move through this world in a body… it’s not just my mind or heart that hears, it’s my whole body. If my physical response is a quickened heartbeat, an unsettled feeling in my stomach, thoughts racing through like fast-moving clouds… My body is signaling that I care deeply about something… and whatever just came into my awareness is some violence of spirit.

If I choose to act in reaction to this, I act out of violence… chaos… imbalance…

To get to quiet, I must recognize a vaster view, expand towards something larger than personal opinion or preference. I have to carve out time in my life to climb Peets Hill and turn in all directions... 

This is a practice towards choosing where I place my attention. This defines my character.  

It doesn't stop another from speaking lies - but it can help me find a quiet space so I do not confuse the clouds with blue sky. 

always in motion,


bozeman, montana

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