“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston S. Churchill
I don’t know everything. On the contrary, in absolute terms, I know very little. What I know is probably a trillionth of a percentage point of all there is to know about our existence. So, for all intents and purposes, I know nothing.
Despite this, for the better part of my life, I spoke more than I listened. And when I was listening, I wasn’t really listening. I was filtering and preparing a more poignant thing to say, or preparing a better argument, or not even listening at all.
It took me a while to realize that I had a lot more to learn from the people (and the world) around me than they (and it) had to learn from me. This is a difficult realization when you spent your life trying to prove that you’re worthy. That you have value.
There are as many perspectives on this earth as there are people. I think that’s why we are drawn to traveling. We interact with people whose perspective is drastically different than ours. A perspective shaped by how they were raised. What they read in school. What they witnessed growing up. Every single experience that has altered their view of the world. It’s their perspective that helps shape ours.
Isn’t that when miracles happen? Those moments where the dots start connecting. Where true understanding begins to take place. Where you see things that have always been there, yet just never registered.
I’ve learned in my older age that I am most happy when I’m growing. And I accelerate this growth when I listen. To my family. To my friends. To my body. To my environment.
When you suppress judgment and observe (to better understand), the catharsis can be magical. You no longer need to be the best. You no longer need to prove yourself. You just need to listen.
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” – Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)