Are You Taking Time to Listen?

by Jay Delaney

Post image for Are You Taking Time to Listen?

Our days are filled with more potential distractions now than ever. We have emails, voicemail messages, phone calls, texts, and social media all begging for our attention.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending our time bouncing back and forth between all of these without ever really getting anything productive done.  As connected as we seem to be, we’re perhaps less connected than ever.  This is not intended to be an attack on technology or social media.  As long as we make technology and social media serve us instead of the other way around, then they can be wonderful, awesome tools.

The problem is that we have so many ways to fill our time that it’s possible to never really just stop and take time to listen. You can listen in numerous ways.  I’m primarily referring to taking time to stop and listen to yourself.  To just sit and be still.  To find a way to look beyond the obsessive, uncontrollable thoughts that arise within you and instead just listen.  To intentionally do nothing.  This means not sitting around and thinking about what you need to do next, replaying the day’s events, planning ahead, critiquing yourself, or dreaming up ideas.

Living where I do in Chicago, I have the luxury of living just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. I took advantage of that recently by driving to the Lake and spending about an hour in peace and quiet, in solitude, alone with myself.  As I sat, along the lakefront, a bird flew up to me.  I was eating a turkey sandwich I had brought with me, and I tore off a piece of crust and tossed it over for the bird to eat.  Within a few moments, a flock of about 30 birds all descended near me.  While I’m sure they all just wanted to see what I might toss their way, it still felt like a magical moment.  I sat there trying to just see and listen, and here are a few of the thoughts that revealed themselves to me:

  1. When you’re open to it, the universe reveals its beauty to you. But you have to be open to it.
  2. In nearly every moment, if we’re not looking, we can miss out on all that’s going well, all that’s beautiful, all that’s worth celebrating. It’s possible to live an entire life and never really see.
  3. Even though it might feel like it sometimes, we’re not alone. We’re more connected to one another than we’ll probably ever realize.  Do you choose to let people in or do you keep them at a distance?
  4. Most moments and experiences are fleeting. We spend so much time trying to cling to the good moments and avoid the bad moments, but that isn’t how life works.  We have to be okay with the impermanence and accept that as reality.
  5. Life isn’t fair. I waste too much of my own energy wishing that life was fair, but it isn’t.  That’s just the way it is. I can try to be fair and contribute fairness to the world, but I need to stop expecting the world to be fair.  It is what it is.

This week, I encourage you to find some time, even if it’s just 30 minutes, to stop and listen. If you really try to tune out all of your thoughts and truly just listen, you might be surprised at what’s revealed to you.

The Story Behind the Picture Above

I took this picture during my time alone at Lake Michigan.  You can see some of the birds I mentioned.  Not a single one of these birds was present when I first sat down. (I have no idea what the story is behind the spraypainted logo for The Doors.)

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