The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent-Alfred Brendel

We sometimes cut each other off because we are both passionate, full of fire, and have a lot to say. I think that passion is what we love about each other. We both desperately want to be heard but sometimes we don’t listen—to each other. It takes immense discipline, willpower to just listen. I don’t know why listening is so difficult—it just is. I imagine if we could just sit back, make eye contact, and take in what each other is saying, our conversations would sing. And I believe one day they will carry each note harmony, as they already sometimes do.

I imagine listening is intentional, patient, thoughtful, and unconditional. I don’t always know for sure, but that is what I believe. I do know that at times our listening in practice sometimes looks like careless dancing, stepping on each other’s feet. To allow someone to express their thoughts, even when what that other person is saying is difficult to hear, is something we are both committed to, just as we are committed to each other.

But we are not there yet. And we both know it, as we dance around our clever words, and catch ourselves pushing and pulling. We both like a good debate, a dueling of thoughts and ideas. We both have a lot to say. But we also have a lot more practice to do with each other; then we can take listening as far as it will go—from tepid to fuming conversations without interruptions. We both want to care deeply about what each other is saying, but we can’t hear each other if we are already in rebuttal, with our body language, in our minds, with our tongues, with even the slightest utterance.

Sitting close, connected, we can talk in fumes and heat, or in calm and peace. I appreciate his temperament, his willingness to try something different, while we teach our tongues to rest and listen, allow the silence to fill the space between our words.


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