Not Listening

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There are numerous books written just about awareness. There are many definitions of awareness. I’ve know the word since grade school. One of my early teenage “identities” was that of being “enlightened” and “aware.” I had read a couple of books and listened to a few lectures. I practiced some meditation.

I have always considered myself a good listener. It was one of my major personal identities. My wife, historically, has not agreed with that viewpoint. Of course, I did not listen to her.

My daughter attended a boarding high school in Bath, Maine called Hyde. In addition to the three family weekends, the parents in the Bay area organized monthly regional meetings. Once a year, Hyde would send out faculty to the west coast to run a large combined meeting.

I was attending one of these larger meetings on a weekend at the Marconi center in northern California. I was in a room with eighteen other parents. There was one exercise where we had to write down on a piece of paper a characteristic that another parent could “work on.” We each did this anonymously for two parents. This is one of those “games” that you are not anxious to win. Most parents received one or two slips of paper. I received twelve that all said the same thing, “David, you don’t know how to listen.”

That was a very difficult moment for me. It was extremely difficult to not become defensive, but it was hard to disagree with eighteen people. They were right. It was a trait that I truly could not see. I simply had to trust a group of people who I knew did not have an agenda and had my best interests at heart.

You cannot be aware if you cannot listen.

The definition of awareness that resonates with me is “Being fully present in the moment.” In other words, I am able to listen, feel, and observe multiple cues to be able to appropriately respond to a person or situation.