Slice of Life 19: A Day for Listening
By Janice Ewing
“Even the silence has a story to tell you. Just listen, listen.” This quote from Jacqueline Woodson was posted on the Two Writing Teachers site today as an inspiration for writing. It got me thinking about why really listening can be so hard. For me, and I guess for many of us, there’s almost a constant commentary running through my mind, not unlike the news feed below the actual news, interrupted by breaking news… I’m often in the middle of doing something, but also thinking about what I need to do next, what I may have forgotten to do earlier, or what other thing I really should be doing right now! It’s hard enough to keep the voices in my own mind straight, let alone focus on others. Today, I’m going to make a conscious effort to put my inner soundtrack on mute so that I can hear the words and the feelings behind the words of others, the myriad sounds of life humming around me, and, if I’m lucky, a story told with silence.
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I love how you explained this sort of “commentary” that runs through your mind and I found your perspective to be incredibly-relatable. I feel as though we live in a world that spins around and around in a constant motion. Individuals can physically be in the present moment of time; however, it is so easy to let our minds wander…as we live in a society filled with schedules, clocks, distractions, plans and noise. I find your conscious effort incredibly inspiring. Listening is a precious act. Taking a moment to pause, silence ourselves and reflect can allow an inner peace to radiate and overcome the busyness in our lives. “A story told with silence”….this is incredible. As an consistently-growing writer, I feel as though it is essential to recognize and appreciate this notion of silence. Many of my peers fail to understand how I complete writing assignments on the Quiet Floor of my university’s library. To myself, there is something serene about the ticking of the clock in the distance, the faded passing of cars down the street and the sounds of repetitive typing on surrounding laptops. While in the “writing state of mind,” I perceive silence as a door that opens endless possibilities. Going forward, I yearn to join you in this effort to appreciate and nourish the beauty of silence…as powerful stories may emerge before my very eyes.
Nicole, thank you so much for your comments. It’s so important as writers (of any age) to know that we have connected with our readers. I love the way you crafted your response — you might consider turning it into a poem! We all need a “Quiet Floor” at times…
Listening is hard…but as teachers I think it’s the thing we do the most. With our friends, it’s so different, we listen and as we do, we are thinking of what we want to say. I would like to try to listen more….I will think of my students and how they feel when they are listened to. Thanks for bringing this to mind!
If you can find a mute button, I’ll take one too! Thank you for reminding me to listen.
I can so relate to this post. I have been trying to do a better job listening in my coaching position, instead of thinking ahead to solutions. It’s hard for me!! I just keep trying. Love the quote.
I’m working on the mute controls…sometimes just a day off from the streams is necessary, especially when it starts becoming white noise. I’m also working on selective mutes, tuning out a a channel down or out temporarily when a dominant one becomes overwhelming. I find that happening more and more with adjunct advocacy blogging/social media.
No link yet today — and two behind to boot, but I am reading (listening) and commenting first.
Listening can be hard! I think that you are exactly right when you note that this has to be “a conscious effort” on our part. It’s so easy to get swept up by that “inner soundtrack” and miss what’s important!
I love the phrase “inner soundtrack”. It is so visual, and I can apply it easily to my thinking. Thanks for that phrase!