How big are your ears?
I don’t mean are the lobes oversized, or is the general scale of your listening instruments out of proportion to your face.
I mean what do you hear?
Do you hear some of the words spoken to you? Do you hear all of the words? Do you hear the meaning underneath the words? Do you make sense of the meaning you hear? Do you hear the tone, pitch, pace of the speaker? Do you hear the expression, the phrasing? Do you detect the strength or fragility in their voice? Do you hear the colour of their face? Do you hear the eye movements that accompany the sentences? Do you hear the angle of their head? Do you hear their physiology – their arm and leg movements, their shoulders, hands, fingers? Do you hear their breathing? Do you hear their heartbeat?
We’ve been sitting in the garden all day today. Under a parasol, around a garden table. Family. Breakfast, lunch and (soon) tea will have been consumed al fresco.
Wildlife has shared the experience with us. Goldfinches sipping water from a water butt. Various unidentified bugs crawling across hands and legs, occasionally swatted away. Bees buzzing around the nearby passion fruit climber. A wood pigeon interrupting the silence with its clapping wings as it launches into a tree from the lawn. The gentle rustle of trees whispering in the breeze.
Human noise has broken our silence too. There is a local festival on a couple of miles away and we can hear live music. Earlier, a succession of light aircraft came over – maybe fifteen in total – each headed in a similar direction, presumably off to a fair, or returning from one? Neighbours are starting up a barbecue and the noise of their preparations is joined by the drifting aroma of the smokey food.
All day the climate has been still. Light gentle wind, warming sunshine. It seems today we have lived inside out, and it has been good.
Being in the outdoors with all its sensory bounty.
You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star
There are many interpretations for this quote. My meaning I take to be…
Only with a freedom in your heart, a freedom to be yourself, to discover and embrace your existence, with all the chaos and complexity that might bring, only then can you bring your dancing star to the surface. A free, expressive version of your ‘self’ that brings light and wonder to the world.
One of the most necessary liberations comes when you discover that what other people think of you is not the same as who you are.
When you can stop identifying yourself with the stories, mistruths and assessments of others, you can also free yourself from a constant inner pressure to appear as you think people want, or expect you to.
But once you know this, another wisdom must be taken on.
You have to understand that other people are not the same as your stories, perspectives or assessments either. That means that whatever you think you know about them can only ever be partial; one aspect, a single angle on a situation way more complex than you’ve allowed for. Whatever you see, know you are blind.
Once these truths are mastered, know also that the story you tell yourself about you, about your own limitations, your acceptance in the world, your abilities or inabilities, is also not who you are. They too are a judgement, blind to the whole you; distorted tales from long distant memories or unintended fabrications from your past. Knowing this allows you to silence your inner critic. It relieves you from the self imposed weight of expectation, the burden of disappointment, the constant sniping at your capability, your value, your contribution, how you come to this world.
This awareness makes space for compassion. Compassion for others and compassion for self.
How often do you think showing vulnerability is weakness?
We hide our own vulnerability so that it cannot be judged by others; and also by ourselves.
Yet, how often do you see someone else show vulnerability and see it as pure courage?
How in the face of so much difficulty, pain and suffering can this brave individual reveal to the world the extent to which they are hurting or not coping? Generally we don’t beat them up, we don’t pick on a weakness, rather we are inspired by their strength, warmed by their compassion, moved to support.
Vulnerability is not weakness.
Let’s bust that myth once and for all.
Free your vulnerability.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Now it’s 34 degrees, I yearn for the cooling currents of a winter’s wrath
I sat the other day with about fifteen like minded people.
We were invited to share something we wanted more of in our lives.
We were sitting in a circle.
I have on several occasions been invited to share my story or something significant about me in a group environment. The most successful of these has always been in a circle, facing each other. It is no accident that village elders often sit in a circle; indeed many cultures do this. Sitting in circles, around a fire, in a yurt, on the desert floor. Children often do it in our primary schools at reading time.
Seeing the faces of the speaker and your fellow listeners builds a bond, draws you to the story, generates a trusting, safe environment. Nobody is in a position of power, authority, dominance. Or in a position of inferiority, subjugation, minority. Everyone is equal.
Strange then that in our places of work, many meeting tables are square or oblong and we are so often organised in rows. Face to face, back to back, side to side.
No wonder we find it hard to be heard.