The art of listening and understanding expression

So it strikes me that the world has its dilemmas at the moment, not to say it has not always had such problems and that today’s issues are kind of a re-packaged version of the various times different segments of humanity have reached a jolly old impasse. These days however we all seem far more involved in it all, say a Mrs Humphry has baked a delicious apple pie somewhere in outer Mongolia only to have it pinched by some unknown assailant some hours later, well in this ever so modern age of ours the pie, the place and people may just make it to the front page of a newspaper or into the delightful column of trending stories on Facebook.
tempted as we will be to click on the story perhaps titled “They will take your pies and next… your life!” featuring a picture of a rather shady looking fellow ominously digging into a slice of cherry pie, the red liquid splattered across his face suggesting the link between this crime and that of murder/cannibalism. Now would we stop to question the validity of the picture, with its image of a Cherry pie despite the article being about an apple pie? Likely not. Would we stop to consider it relevance to us, to the local community of which we are a part or would the enticing picture and the mysterious headline, the sense of fear that our own pies might be at risk and if that is the case then what next, would this allure convince us to delve deeper into the story?
I doubt it of course because this story is really quite far-fetched yet in all honesty I have seen worse and of late they seem to be degrading further into what could better be called “utter bollocks”. The value of the media today seems to me as a daily injection of poison, the serious tone of the newscaster no matter the story has us all paying close attention, we ignore the fact that these people and these organizations are only there to sell ‘news’. We forget that they are completely bias towards whatever will keep our attention the most, it has to be dramatic, it has to be scary and it most certainly has to be twisted and contorted to make it more entertaining while being presented as ever so important to maintain a kind of control of the viewers.
If we take a step back however, it becomes quite easy to see the false nature of the media, like when we watch a movie and remember that what we are watching is a mish mash of different acted scenes and that in all likelihood the people on screen are not actually lovers but normal people, doing their nine to five and thinking about dinner. Then, like enlightened beings we gain a rather rare but useful frame of mind, one that is not easily manipulated, tricked or made unconscious but one that is well aware of the reality of the situation, well aware that all media is an expression of an intent by those directing it. When we look for that intent instead of at the images, dramatic music and serious expressions then we see the real value of the message or in many cases the complete lack thereof.
This is the art of listening, to hear without reacting, to let what comes to us pass through in its most pure form without falling into the temptation of attaching it to emotional responses. Take our pie thief and the malicious image of him ravaging pastry, red liquid oozing down his face with eyes full or remorseless intentions, should we see it through the art of true listening we simply see a silly image used to try and present our assailant as a monster. But if we see the image through the blind emotional centre we instead see that monster, we see he is not from “round ere” and so label pretty much anyone who falls into the “round ere” category as safe while forever being fearful of those who do not, despite the fact they are just as likely pie thieves as the next person or better said just as likely innocent as the next person.
I decided some time ago to neither watch nor listen to the news when I have the choice, I cannot truly listen to a real life event, story or person when it comes through a ‘middle man’. There is zero trust in my heart for anyone whose sole purpose is to convince me of something… like an annoying salesmen who wants me to know more about PPI, who tells me that I and many others are missing out and tries to present himself as my friend, looking out for me and my welfare… nothing to do with his commission…
Hold nothing personal against these folk, they are doing their job and believe there is no other path, some believe they are doing good and perhaps they are the few genuine voices out there and it isn’t like any of us have maintained our integrity at all times. I don’t even think it’s possible to be honest, a part of our minds, the part biologists call the ‘serpent mind’ which is responsible for the lowest base instincts like fight or flight, is still a large part of who we are. It is from this place we fear, panic and stress out about life and it’s also this place we try our best to hide from everyone else lest we be seen as week or inferior to our neighbour.
The animal is the part of us we struggle to express more than anything else, the part we are sure will not be accepted and may even cause us to be shunned and rejected by those we hold close. It is the part that despises this boring monotony of work – eat – sleep – repeat because it was once running free, senses heightened as it fought for survival and a way to come out on top. After all if you are alive today then you have the DNA that made it this far, which was the best and did come out on top, your ancestors were specialists that worked tirelessly against ignorance because that was a sure fire way to end up dead when living wasn’t so cushy.
Now we ask that same part of us to shut up and stay quiet so we can maintain the illusion of strength, an appearance of perfection, and the pretence of wisdom. We read up on philosophy and we construct ideas about life but those greatest of histories wise folk gained what they did by applying their lessons to life, they embraced the animal part of themselves because it was the part that felt life and didn’t just think about it. I wonder how many folk who receive a degree in philosophy or history or any study area are capable of using that to really listen to the world as it is or will they choose to use it as Armor instead?

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I was recently in a course meeting about a project I am doing and after two weeks of working on various ideas and refining them to a point at which I was happy, my hopes were high that my tutor and her boss would like the idea. When I explained it however I could tell even before the finish that there was something wrong, perhaps I could have found out at the time if I had used the art of listening but too much of me was invested in the work, the idea and the project. As they gently tried to describe the problems and point me in the right direction I could feel myself on the edge of my seat, I was letting them talk but I wasn’t listening, I was waiting to reply, my stance was already set in stone.
After this meeting I unloaded my purse on a colleague on the course who to my surprise agreed with my tutors, slightly taken aback I was nearly ready to bite but this time, softening to a friend it was far easier to release that I had not been listening and after his explanation it all turned around and made sense. It is this in all situations where there is conflict, a part of us is not expressing itself and feels desperate to burst free, this causes us to stop listening while others speak and instead, we wait for an opportunity to speak yet in that waiting we take nothing in, we prevent the other side from expressing itself.
So as we take an inward look at ourselves, are there inside each of us a set of ideas, beliefs or views that are preventing us listening? Are we feeling unable to express ourselves and taking that frustration out on others and in turn doing exactly the same to them, stifling their voices. If there are problems in this world then is it not just common sense to listen to both sides, all sides and try to bring down the walls that keep the image of “them n us” alive because people who are angry are expressing themselves, why? Nobody is listening. That is what anger is, an explosion of repressed emotion, fear and rejection combined with suffering and hopelessness what would you do in that situation?
Listening doesn’t mean you place a judgement on anything, it simply is being and ear to those who need one, for me this blog can be like that because just like a diary or a journal I can express myself without effort. Once the writing is complete and I am finished then I feel a great weight has lifted of my shoulders and that has given me an appreciation of expression and listening with all of my attention. From now on I will try to be a better listener, I don’t have answers but sometimes people don’t need to be told ‘it’s okay’ or some other nonsense they just need to empty out all the crap life has dumped on them. I will also try to be more honest in the way I express myself because if I am not then bitterness and resentment will replace contentment and joy and I will suffer as all do.
Please try to listen to others, give them the chance to be their crazy animal selves and forgive them for their failures because I assure you they know them and are tortured by them more than you, offer your ear to those who may need it and lay no judgement on what they express and slowly this world will be made a better place. See in each face the mask that hides the human beneath it, see anger and action for what it is, expressions of something else and forgive yourself when you fall because you are just as crazy as everyone else. The craziest thing of all is pretending to be normal because that doesn’t even exist and if you need and ear I just want to offer mine, no judging, no answers just an whole to speak into 🙂

Okay so I have been feeling some major lows lately, not uncommon for me but I imagine this is where this blog came from because I certainly had no intention of writing it but I guess I just wanted to express something though what this was I haven’t the foggiest but I do feel better haha… Not many pictures or poetry just a rant I suppose but I hope it wasn’t to hard a read anyway

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