"The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent."
I really love that quote. I have been sitting with it for some time. I have been reading (slowly) a book about listening. "Seven Thousand Ways To Listen; Staying Close to What is Sacred" by Mark Nepo.
Slowing down, appreciating all that is around me, practicing silence, learning to really listen. Silent listening certainly allows for a closer connection to life.
I am not a silent person. I am a talker. Whether I was born that way or it is a condition, a reflex, a coping mechanism I developed due to the harshness of life, I cannot be certain. This past year has found me to be much quieter. I have been doing a lot of soul searching, reflecting and personal growth. I have been trying to discover my authentic self in order to save myself. I am learning the importance of listening. Not just listening to all the 'noise' that slams at our ears every day (chatter, the blaring radio, traffic), but genuinely, slowing down and taking notice of the most minuscule of messages listening allows for.
If you slow down and really listen, you can hear the subtleties of life that might normally pass you by. The slight sigh from a loved one that lets you know they are content, or perhaps the sound of a slightly heavier sigh that declares subtly but certainly, "I need a hug".
You hear the true meaning behind someones words. What used to sound like gossip now sounds like someone who is unhappy with their life, therefore talking about others to take the focus off their own issues.
You hear your own heart. Its happiness and joys, the fears, the sadness. You hear it more clearly allowing for changes to be made.
Mother Nature offers a plethora of sounds to meditate upon and if you sit in silence listening long enough, your soul will answer in response to all that nature provides.
Last night I insisted the entire family pile into the van in snow gear with sleds in the rear. We drove to a local sledding hill. The sun was setting, the snow on the hill packed to a solid, slippery base. Luck had the hill empty upon arrival. The sun was setting. I stood at the top of the hill and silently observed.
The sun was setting. Orange filled the horizon stacked with yellow, followed by a baby blue sky. Dark cirrus clouds completed the top most layer. The colors were brilliant. There was a line of trees in front of the setting sun. Deciduous trees barren of their leaves while they stood sleeping the winter away. They appeared black standing majestically up against the magic sunset.
In front of me were five amazing, lovely, brilliant human beings sailing down the hill over and over. Whoosh went the sleds. Screams and/or silence on the way down exchanged with laughter upon landing safely at the bottom. Chattering their way back up for another round, traded for huffing and puffing the closer they reached the top of the climb. Sitting, shifting, preparing. Down, down, down again.
The sky filled with darkness. There is a light at the top of the hill. As they made their way to the bottom, they appear to disappear as the darkness enveloped them one, two, three, four, five. After some time, a train was heard off in the distance, its whistle piercing the cold, quiet air. The kids stop, turn, listen, wait, watch. Weighing heavily on the cold steel tracks, the earth moves and rumbles and shakes.
Reaching their fill of observation, the family turned once again to climb the hill. Once again they sail to the bottom with only the sound of sled on snow, reaching their destination upon which time the chatter and laughter would begin again.
So much to listen to on that hill. The sound that stood out the most in that moment of presence, of silent listening, was the sound of my own heart filling with joy, happiness, pride. Love was swooshing from chamber to chamber, whispering "This. This is what life is about."