The deep hunger to be seen and really heard….at any age
I believe that there is a deep desire within us to be seen, heard, and truly understood. And I believe that this is one of the most genuine and deep forms of intimacy that can exist between two people.
This desire does not go away with aging. In fact, I think that the hunger may become more real, since it can be more challenging to even be noticed in the first place, given some of the feeling of invisibility that can come with being older.
We are not taught this skill of listening, although it, in my opinion, should be on every curriculum and in every lesson plan.
There is a voice inside each of us, a voice that expresses who we are. Our spirit, our desires, our fears, our angers, our passions, our soul.
I am struck by how little listening that I really observe in the world. And I notice within myself how easily I can also get distracted and pay less attention that I would like. It’s humbling, this being human.
Deep listening takes slowing down and stopping to focus on the other.
It takes shutting up our own busy mind so that we can hear what is being said, what is being expressed, what is being put out there for us to hold in our hearts. It is someone saying, while holding out their hands, Here is a piece of me, of my heart. Please hold it gently and with tenderness
It takes a true presence with the other.
It is more than hearing what is being said, although that is important as well. It takes more.
It takes listening to not only the words, but the tone, the inflection, and the music of the voice. Hearing the volume, and seeing the expressions of the face and the eyes that accompany the words. Noticing any movements that can also add to the symphony of the message.
It takes attending to the whole being in front of us. Hearing their plea for us to see who they are in this moment, in their vulnerability of sharing a piece of what is inside of them.
Deep presence and listening can be one of the most intimate forms of connection that there is. And we need it more than ever as we get older.
I can show you my body, which is very vulnerable, especially as I continue to have age related changes happening. I have changed on the outside, and I am afraid that those changes will not let you see who I am on the inside.
I can also show you my soul. I can put a piece of myself out there in front of you and be so very vulnerable. My thoughts, feelings, fears, desires, things that bring me to tears, things that make me angry, things that make me laugh, things that I am shy to tell you about myself for fear of judgment. Things that hurt me. When I share these things, I realize that I am giving you something that you may be able to hurt me with, and trusting that you won’t.
And I am afraid that my feelings about aging may scare you and may not be something that you can hear, because I am your future. A future that may be too frightening for you to see right now.
And yet, this deep need and desire to be heard seem to only intensify with my getting older, as time grows shorter for me to express who I am, what I feel, what is inside of me and all that I have experienced for all of these years.
So when you ask me How are you? , I want to know that you really mean what you are asking, that you really want to hear how I am. That you will take the time to stop and listen to my response.
You don’ t have to do anything to fix any pain that you may hear. I simply need you to hear me. Really hear me.
It is not a lifelong commitment. It is a deep commitment to this moment in time.
If there are more moments, that’s great. If not, I will hold this moment inside me as a cherished gift. The gift of being witnessed deeply. Of being heard. Of having felt that sacred connection with another being.
Can you hear me in this piece that I have written?
If I tell you that I will be 70 soon, will you hear this differently? Will you take a moment to see me? And know that you have given me a precious gift?
And will you know that I, although older, can perhaps give you that gift in return? I want to hear what you have to say as well. Who you are. How you feel.
We may have years that separate us, but our experoience on this journey of being human is one that we can share.
So, will you hear how I am? And will you tell me how you are and who you are? Can we simply be side by side in that moment in time, acknowledging each other? Seeing each other? Really hearing each other? It will only take stopping for a moment in time. A moment that can feel like gift of eternity.