The Gift of Being Heard
I’ve spent many hours listening to and being listened to. I’ve communicated, at least on some superficial level, what I meant to say. I pause to listen, to tune in, but in my haste, I fail to hear the real sound that I am in need of hearing. I listen, but fail to hear.
You can learn listening skills that will, if you practice them, enable you to not “spring” too soon. You can learn to clarify what is being said, and the person on the other end of the conversation may come away feeling as if they communicated successfully.
We listen inquisitively, we listen out of curiosity, we listen in hopes that if we do so it will somehow all be over and we can say “I listened to you. What more do you want from me?” We listen with resentment and fear. We don’t really want to know. We listen passively. We practice “active listening.” We justify all of this as doing a good bit of what we perceive listening and hearing to be.
At the end of the person’s sharing, they may be frustrated by the lack of listening we displayed. Maybe they are right. Maybe we blew it all off, tuned ourselves out. Maybe we did a “good enough” job of listening, but it wasn’t good. Maybe we got lucky. Maybe they left feeling a bit better for having spent the time in conversation. They might feel any of the above, or they might feel something else, and we might not be given the chance to find out just how we did during that conversation. There are times when we only get one shot at listening and turning it into truly hearing what the other person is telling us.
Each conversation is a one-shot deal. It is my observation that for most of us, we spend time listening, but not hearing. Hearing is an art and most of the time we fail to do it very well. Hearing is acknowledging what is left unsaid, as well as the spoken portion. Hearing is seeing and feeling the richness of the soul. Hearing can be like unwrapping a gift box. There are no courses for hearing. There are only times in our lives when we are the person who hears in fullness and the person that is fully heard. These are the times that we remember most. To fully hear and be heard: to grock it (Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein). This knowing is what hearing and being heard is all about: to have a fullness of understanding and to view the “gestalt,” or the picture in its entirety.
Recalling the conversation that sparked this blog title isn’t essential. The last comment, however, was the true gift: the gift that told me that for a brief moment in time, I mattered to this person. “You needed to be heard.” Those words became significant. That one sentence caused my soul to change. I had been given the gift of being heard and I knew it.
Hearing it Physically
Music is a major part of my life. I listen, I sing, and yet I don’t hear all of its richness due to a hearing loss. I can hear harmonies, but not the richness that is present. I miss what the composer intended that I hear. If I use headphones I can hear more, but not all of the richness that is present. Headphones can be a pain. To hear the richer and fuller sounds of the music, I must wear them. I must use them when I Skype. I must be tuned into the other person.
Recently I decided that I needed to revisit the hearing instrument market. I had worn one such gadget from the mid ’80s to the late ’90s. The gadget was big and not very effective. When I moved to Germany, I stopped wearing it. I would live without hearing because it felt better to not have that gargantuan thing in my right ear. I would also be rid of the background noises that were not wanted. Hearing was not pleasant.
Life changed and I needed to see if I could introduce a better quality of hearing pleasure into my daily experience. I found a center that does thorough screening for hearing loss and took that information to the techie who would do the actual work of finding the proper gadget for my sorry state of being. I didn’t feel very hopeful. My past experience was foremost in my mind.
The next week something wonderful happened: I heard a conversation and didn’t have to ask the person to repeat what was said. This was novel!!!! There were no raised voices. The experience was beautiful. Listening was effortless. I could once again hear the world around me.
I began to explore and found that I could have background music on and still hear!!!! I could listen as our three cats munched down their meals. Cats are noisy when they munch. I could listen to the sound of the water, which had always seemed so quiet. Once the initial adjustment to hearing old sounds in new ways passed, I was happy. I was excited about having something else switched on. That switch was triggered a week later.
That next Monday, my music-listening program went live. I heard music in a new way. I was ecstatic. I could hear notes that had gone missing!!! The guy told me about some technology that would enhance my hearing experience to even greater heights. I had him order the “Mini Tek.” NOW I WAS EXCITED! Oh, to hear the world in ways it was meant to be heard!
This gadget Mini Tek enables the user to have the sound transmitted directly to the hearing instrument. I would have a clear stream of beautiful noise!!!! I would be tuned in precisely!!!! I would hear my phone conversations while out and about and not have to ask the speaker to repeat themselves. Life was getting to be a bit of heaven on earth… UNTIL I found out that the insurance, which was paying for thousands of Euros of hearing pleasure, would not cover this 300 Euros of enhancement technology, and I was faced with having to return the box that I had only hours before opened so excitedly.
Returning that box to the Beter Horen (we’re now in Holland) was one of the most depressing days of my life. I asked my husband Jon to do it because I was too depressed, too sick in my heart of hearts, to take it back. So, for now the gift of really hearing music and out of the house phone conversations is not happening. For now it is hard, but not as hard, to hear. But this is just about physical hearing and not about the needful hearing.
The Gift Box
Fortunately, for the true hearing of the soul I don’t need a hearing instrument. I don’t need a Mini Tek; I need an open heart that is tuned to the correct frequency of another’s heart. The transmission will be clear. I will be shown what I am meant to see and hear. That is what the gift of being heard is all about.
The gift of being heard is about feeling the soul. We must not only hear the words of the heart, but we must see the landscape of the soul. Only with both true hearing and clear vision can we understand and grant the gift. Only then can we hope to understand the rich soul-scape that awaits us. Only then will we rejoice and be thankful that we unwrapped and shared the gift of being heard.