Tag Archive | listening

Sleepless, Sleepless Night

city scape (1)A couple of nights ago I couldn’t sleep, so I went out to the sofa at midnight and turned on the television. When this insomnia hits, the experts say I should not let anything electronic interfere with a dark, quiet room. Well, that just doesn’t work for me. I’ve already lain in my bed for hours trying to tell my body to nod off, so, I’ve formulated my own therapy to bring sleep . . . a couple of Tylenol and a television show that has a monotone narrator.

I’ve figured out I’m an auditory learner. I love sound. I learn by listening. I also am soothed by voices that show no excitement. So, History and Science channels are my drug of choice after midnight when I experience insomnia. With my head on my favorite pillow, my pug on my tummy, both of us covered by my favorite blankie, I let the illuminated television do its magic.

The program I chose was called, “The History of the World in Two Hours.”  Seeing over half of the program was over before I switched it on, I saved myself from all the whoo-ha about the big bang and the billions of years it took to make our solar system. I landed smack-dab in the middle of the development of humans. (The narrator made the point that if you shrunk the 14 billion years of the existence of the universe down to 14 days, the human experience would take up THREE SECONDS.)

And in those three seconds – boy have we been busy!

homo erectus (1)Did you know that we actually lived in trees at one time? And when the large trees disappeared because of some climate change that brought the grasslands into being, the trees became too crowded, so a few of us more enterprising humans decided to leave the tree apartment and venture out into the flat grass?

But the grass didn’t provide protection, so we got up on our two feet and stood erect, so we could see predators before they could see us. We learned to make cutting tools from rocks. We used those tools to hunt. We invented fire.  Being able to cook the food gave us more calories so our brains could grow bigger. We were on our way to conquer earth!

After a few more years, the larynx dropped down in our throats, and we learned to communicate through sound. We could talk! We developed language! We could share experiences! We broadened our experience through the experiences of others, and we got smarter because our world was bigger than our own experiences. Then we learned to write our language, and the world expanded even farther. We also did other marvelous things, like learning to plant seeds so we didn’t  have to totally rely on killing something in order to eat. But this ability to share experiences was the one thing that captured me.

I think being human makes us NEED to communicate with others. It might not be in our DNA, but being social certainly is part of the human experience. I think that’s why books are so important. I think we NEED to learn from each other. I think we NEED to listen to others. That’s why we have TWO ears and ONE mouth. We only learn by listening.

Interesting, isn’t it? Listening is more important than talking for any writer. Maybe that’s why we eavesdrop in restaurants and other public places. Or maybe we’re just basically nosy; I don’t know which. But at any rate our ears are always open and our eyes are always observing. Then we go home and write it down. God, I love being a writer!

And yes, eventually sleep does come in the early morning hours and when I wake,  I get up and write down my dreams.

Words, Words and More Words–What is Really Being Said?

Shut upOne of the young bloggers I follow is a college student named Amelia. She suffers from Cerebral Palsy, but the girl has it going on. Like so many other people I’ve met through the blogging world, she’s amazing.

This morning I read one of her posts and found it almost poetic. It was about words. Here’s the link if you want to give it a read. It truly is brilliant. Go ahead and read it: http://lifeintheblueridges.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/reflecting-on-words/#comment-4636.   I’ll be here when you’re done.

Oh good, you’re back . . .

Amelia’s post got me to thinking about how many times in my day I even think about words.  Okay, okay, I think plenty about words when the “right” word is on the tip of my tongue, and I can’t spit it out into my manuscript.  So, for all the writers out there who are struggling with finding the “right” word, you are exempt from thinking about words because I know you’re exhausted. For everybody else, ‘fess up! Do we even give the words we speak a second thought?

In our hurried world, I don’t think so. Consider the sports casters who fill air-time with constant gibberish. Or how they babble prophecy about things that haven’t happened yet.  Or how about reporters standing outside in nasty weather and are telling us how terrible it is?  Or Congressmen and Senators on Face the Nation  and other programs like it, who “talk over each other” and rarely say anything?

Do you see what I mean? I truly believe people have become so accustomed to this constant blathering, they don’t know how to shut-up and words have become white noise. We must stop. These essential communication tools shouldn’t suffer this fate. We can’t let words lose their punch because we use too many of them.

Think before speaking. Rewrite what is written. Maintain word integrity.  Words praise. Words compliment. Words express love. And they spew hate.  They’re soothing, but vicious They build up; they tear down. They hurt. They heal. They wound and destroy. They guide our head and hearts. We can’t let over use dilute them.

Think about what Shakespeare said: When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.

I’ll shut up now.

When the Unthinkable Invades a Neighborhood

parents and childrenWhen you’re a child, if you’re lucky, you have parents who protect and love you. Your only job is to be obedient and succeed at school. The downside of being a child for me was I was told how to do everything. I wasn’t even in charge of my own feelings. When I was proud of an accomplishment, I was told not to “get a big head.” When I was sad, I was told I had nothing be be sad about. My mother told me how I should be feeling instead of how I truly felt.

As I remember this about my childhood, I sincerely hope the parents in Connecticut, who are lucky enough to have surviving children, after the horrendous shooting in an elementary school, are wiser than my parents were. I hope they will listen to their children. They can’t FIX anything right now. All they can do is care and listen. No one can fathom what these kids suffered after the madness swept into their safe school. No one can understand why a 20 year old child would go into their school with guns blazing. How does a child recover from such an unthinkable act?

Nobody has a manual which teaches parents how to help their children through such a meaningless assault. Many of these children are too young to verbalize their fears; they may act out in ways their parents don’t understand; they may even start wetting the bed again.

My heart breaks for all of them. I am ashamed I live in such a gun-crazy society where these insane event have become common place. No, I am not going to rant about guns, I’m too sad to do that just now. But I believe this violence has got to stop. This cruel act is the summit of a society gone wrong, where mentally ill people can get guns and take innocent lives.

The only thing that will bring this community through this unthinkable loss is love and listening. I think that’s why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. And after the media hype is over, the rest of us need to start LISTENING to each other and put the guns down.