I’m Listening

This was an intention statement that i made a year ago today.
I’m proud of my conduct and progress in this area, and i intend to continue.
To that end i share it even with those that i don’t personally know or interact with.

Happy Thursday.

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Dear People-that-i-personally-interact-with,

I wanna tell you something. I have a lot of thoughts about this and more than a few things to say about it, but i’m gonna keep this short (ish).

The reason i’ll be brief is because this stuff is super important for me regarding what kind of human i want to be, and also how i see the other humans in the world, but based on how my husband’s eyes have rolled up into his head a couple of times, i think i have a tendency to drone on and on about it. Pity the poor man when i’m trying to figure something out. Heh.

I was raised “right wing” but would currently be considered “left wing”.
I’ve decided that, with respect to interpersonal relationships, i don’t know what the hell those terms mean.

The recent political campaigns and elections i’ve seen in my province, in my country, and in my closest neighbouring nation, have all been contentious and divisive. I’ve seen so much fear and anger and hatred amongst people on both sides of the political spectrum and i get it.

I SO TOTALLY, TOTALLY GET IT.

You do you. Say your piece. Trim your friends list. Make your ultimatums. Draw your lines in the sand. Curate. Block. Plant your flag at the top of your hill and defend it against all comers.

I want you to know i believe in your right to do that, and i have no judgment about whether it’s good or bad, or you should or shouldn’t do it. It’s your life and you should live it as you choose and do what you think is right. I support you in this respect.

This is a belief and intention statement from me, about me.

I have thoughts and beliefs about things like religion, politics, sex, family, the law and law enforcement, the rights of other living beings, the environment, the planet, the universe, what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s right and who’s wrong… all of it. Just like you do, and i can guarandamntee that there’s not a single human with whom i completely agree with about everything out there. If there is, it’s because neither of us have the time or the inclination to discuss ALL OF THE THINGS, and our jaws are starting to lock up and we’ve got a headache from nodding so much.

What i believe is that there is room enough here for everyone, conditionally. Those conditions would include tolerance for differences of opinion and points of view, and a willingness to be wrong and to see things from another perspective. And the earth could stand a chance of being a truly transcendent place if everyone actively tried to understand everyone else.

Maybe that’s just me. Anyway…

Maybe it’s also just my perception that the divide between “sides” is getting wider and deeper. However, maybe there are others out there who’ve been watching it happen and are becoming more and more concerned for our future. And maybe, like me, you’ve also been wondering what in the name of all that’s good in the world, can little ole nobody me do about it?

This is not the part where i tell you. I can’t because i don’t know.
I think that most of us by now have gotten the message that we all have a voice and we all have something to say, but there is another piece of that message, a yang to its yin, that i believe has been lost.

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Although that was initially intended as a philosophical thought experiment regarding observation and knowledge of reality, i can use it to illustrate the point that i’m trying to make, which is this: Have you really spoken if no one has listened to what it is that you said? Does it matter what you say if no one listens? If everyone’s clamouring to be heard, who is left to hear?

I’ve decided that i am. I’m left to listen, and listen i will.

Look, i get frustrated, too. I think everyone should think what i think because i’m clearly right.
But i read the same tones and hear the same inflections in the words of people espousing various beliefs that in my opinion go from nonsensical to repugnant. So then WTF? I used to go to snark pages to blow off some steam about how incredibly ignorant and stubborn some people can be, but i quickly found that i didn’t feel good about participating. Over the past few months i’ve found myself not going to those pages at all, not even just to read them, because i don’t even feel relief anymore. For me those groups are just echo chambers, and i think they gave me a false sense of security, and gave me an excuse not to think for myself, not do my due diligence, and close my ears to opposing opinions, beliefs, and points of view.

This does not mean i’m suddenly open to changing my mind about all or even any of my beliefs. I have good reasons for the things that i believe to be right and good, and i can back it up. What i’m saying is that i’ll listen, even if i disagree -and more than that- i’ll listen respectfully. I will tell you bluntly though, i may not find your beliefs or opinions worthy of any respect, but as long as you can have a civilised and relatively reasonable discussion with me, you will have my quiet attention.

I will try my best to understand where you’re coming from.
I will not patronise you, neither with my demeanor nor with my responses.
I may believe you to be dead wrong. I may even find what you’re saying to be morally reprehensible.
But i will hear you out. I will listen to you and try to understand where you’re coming from, unless or until you either become intolerably disrespectful or aggressive, or i perceive to my satisfaction that you’re being intentionally or otherwise wilfully ignorant, at which point i will end our interchange in as decent and quick a manner as i can manage.

For myself, i cannot see how i can do otherwise, and not be contributing to this increasingly wide, deep, and treacherous divide between recognisable and appreciable sides of any and all issues. I don’t know how good i’ll be at this, but wherever this place is that i’m starting at, it is my sincere promise that i’ll get better at it.
Listening.
Understanding.
Communicating respectfully.

Okay, so maybe you think this isn’t short or even ish. If you don’t believe it, just ask my husband, and be vigorously assured.

Have as good a day as you’re able.

Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. Isn’t one expected to be dropping resolutions rather than adding more at this stage?

Thoughts About a Friend

Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think that you can speak about it,
Just remember to reach out and touch the past and the future.
Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think you can speak about it,
Don’t ever think that you can’t change the past and the future.
You might not, not think so now,
But just you wait and see–someone will come to help you.
~Kate Bush, Love and Anger

I have this friend. We weren’t always friends, but we’ve known each other for a very, very long time. We knew the same people, so i heard a lot of stuff about her and i’m sure she could say the same. We don’t talk about that, though. We don’t talk about those people either. She knows i don’t want to talk about them, and she respects that.

She respects me. She said so last week.
That is one thing that i don’t get in my life – or at least i don’t accept it.
Respect.
I have been a dysfunctional mess for most of my life. The only thing i’ve had going for me is my somewhat charming personality.
But she respects me, and so we don’t talk about those people.
She respects me, and that means that she has respected my space. She has this way about her that i don’t quite know how to describe. She’s calm. She has a soft and gentle voice, that always sounds as if the next sentence might just be sarcastic, although it mostly isn’t. Her eyes are kind and intelligent, and her face always looks so serene. She’s got that Mona Lisa face. Like she knows a lot and doesn’t mind at all that you don’t. Not smug though, she’s welcoming. She makes me feel welcome. I feel like i’m enough and i am okay just the way i am when i’m with her.

As you may know from other posts, i have slowly withdrawn from people, until i pulled out of the human race entirely over 15mos ago. The only people i associated with were my children and their families. I needed time to figure out what i wanted from others, and what i was willing to give. She would come by every few months, even though she knew i wasn’t peopling. I’d send my husband out to cut her off at the pass and i’d go hide in my room. She’d leave coffee and doughnuts. She’d tell my husband that it was okay that i didn’t want to come out, or she was sorry i was sick. A lie that i made him tell her, that she probably knew wasn’t true. Yet she would stop by again a few months later – like it was okay for me to lie.
“Just tell her i love her,” she’d say to him.

One day she came by and i went outside to meet her. I don’t even know how it happened. I was just out there and i was saying Hi. She only stayed for five minutes. It was like she knew that was all i could take. She respected me.
She’s going through some serious crap in her life. I knew it, but i didn’t think i could do anything. I’ve been standoffish with our “group” of people for many years now. I couldn’t imagine what i had to offer that she would want. She stopped by one day, and i let her in the door. All she wanted from me was a hug. There were tears slipping down her cheeks, but we didn’t talk about them. I hugged her for longer than i’d hugged anyone in years, and she said she loved me and she left. It took all of five minutes.

She accepted me and loved me for exactly who i was, precisely where i was at, every time she saw me, all the time she was with me. She made me feel welcome and that i was enough, just the way i was at that moment. I felt like everything was gonna be okay.
And when i knew that i wanted to go back out into the world and try being the person that i really am inside, around real life human beings – she was the first person i contacted. Because she respects me. For who, what, how, and why i am. And i know that is an incredibly rare quality. She is a quality human.

I feel honoured and privileged to know her and so very fortunate to be loved by her.
She is one of the best friends that i have ever had. I respect her more than just about anyone else i know.
It’s her birthday, and i hope she has a great one.

Love and Peace,
To Her and To You,
~H~