On Listening

Podcasts have very quickly become my new obsession - my husband now is very used to coming home and hearing me say "so I heard this today on this podcast...". One of my absolute favourite podcasts is one called On Being, which essentially looks at what it means to be human. There's a myriad of people interviewed: poets, musicians, spiritual leaders, mathematicians, psychologists.. such a great mix of people. There are so many favourites, but one of the recent ones that so resounded with me is this episode on listening with Dave Isay, the founder of Storycorps. Dave Isay has written a book titled "Listening is an act of love", and I think those words encompass their conversation quite well. I have always really loved to listen, and I think this conversation really resounded with me because it recognized listening as a love language, and gave it power and meaning, even though listening is often seen as something passive. 

Growing up, I was always told to speak more in class, to give my opinion more, to be heard. But I had always really loved to listen even when I was little - I think it probably relates to my love for reading and books, that I would want to enter into someone else's world and let their words and their thoughts speak. I remember thinking that there was something wrong with me for not being more vocal, but I now see that this is probably related to my introverted personality. It's only more recently that I've been able to fully embrace this about myself and see it as a gift, and to see that there is nothing wrong with me for not wanting to speak; that to sit and listen is good too. 

Listening, to me, feels like an honour. It is a privilege to hear someone's story, to listen as someone reveals themselves, to know in that act that they would entrust their stories and their words to me. Listening, then, is my way of saying to people that they matter. It says that you are valued, you have thoughts and feelings and stories, and that those are important because of the person they belong to. Listening is my way of saying, you are loved. Isay perfectly captures for me what listening is: it does in fact speak; it says that you matter, and you are loved.