Try this experiment. It lasts only 3 minutes. (Right now you have had that instant switch from, well, only 3 minutes, to THREE MINUTES?!) Remember the days when a glance at the clock showed three minutes to bell time? Those three minutes took f.o.r.E.V.e.r. Yes, even teachers can feel that way. Then there are other times when the minute hand twitched and skipped the last thirty. We’ll bypass all that Einstein, time -is- not- linear stuff; it boils down to attitude.
Back to the experiment. Turn off everything. Sit at the table or on the porch. Set the timer on the phone. Now, don’t just wait. LISTEN. At first it might seem like there is nothing to hear but that darn chainsaw in the woods, but it can’t completely cover up the various birds chirping in the yard, across the road, by the bridge. A squirrel running up the loose bark that crinkles a bit. A car going by on the highway. And what’s that? Oh! The cat taking his spit-bath. Rustling of pine needles. Chair creaking under shifting weight, shoes scraping the concrete just a bit. The jolting crack of the tree being cut.
It’s a three-minute exercise to create better listeners. Listening is THE most important factor in authentic conversation. Authentic conversation is necessary for connection. Connection is paramount for life and well-being.
Roll your eyes and paddle the air waves to help me get to my point faster. We do that sometimes, don’t we, inwardly if not outwardly? But there is a whole lot of self between the start and the finish. To rush through diminishes the speaker, cheats the listener and short-circuits the connection.
We are so spoiled to automatic. Touch a key, the screen produces. Screens are silent thieves stealing precious moments, creating a population ceasing to seek connection, instead seeking instant gratification and validation in an ear-plugged world growing increasingly void of eye contact, touch, smiles and conversation.
The gift of connection – I have been on the receiving end recently, so I have been reminded how important it is to be a giver of such. Listening is key. I will practice.
(Reality check. It takes about 2 minutes and 20 seconds to read aloud the 361 words in the column above).