Culture · Relationships

listening all in

Last week, the Strategic Monk wrote a perceptive post called Living Life Out Loud. He began by describing a conversation he’d had with someone, in which they described to him a particularly painful experience, and observed “Saying it out loud makes it more real.”

“We depend on our stories. We believe the stories we tell ourselves; we understand and take control of our lives and the world around us through our stories… Our stories are important; they express who we really are. It can be painful and difficult, and it can be an experience of great joy, to tell our story. Each time we share part of our true story it becomes more real to us.”

Telling our stories makes them real to us, and makes us real to those who hear them. Yet telling our stories requires (a) time, and (b) an engaged listener, two things increasingly hard to come by in today’s on demand, attention-deficit-disordered world.

There are two potential dangers. First, unable to find an audience for our stories, we begin to lose our place – to feel less real – as if we are fading into a shallow, transparent ghost of our true selves. Secondly, as listeners we falsely assume our smart phone multiplies our abilities – virtually allowing us to be in several places at once – when the truth is it fragments us, creating ever more diminished versions of ourselves as we multi-task. We become a culture of faded shadows and scraps brushing by one another in busy efficiency.

Someone around us has an important story they need to say out loud. We need the enrichment of fully engaging in that story. So put on a pot of coffee. Open another bottle of wine. Settle in and get comfortable. I’m listening.

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