This I Believe

Mary Claire - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on May 22, 2007

Slowing Down to Listen

I believe in listening. Really listening.

Let’s face it: Life in this new century can be an intense experience. Technology puts everything at our fingertips. When I was in college 30 years ago, I had to go to the library to do research or find the information I was looking for. These days, when I’m writing something, I can research information at 2AM at my computer if I want to. Now, that’s a gift. It’s handy. It’s miraculous, and I’m grateful. But it also can be a huge distraction. It’s just too easy for me to write one more email or surf one more topic.

Whenever I’ve made the time to take that walk, or just sit outside, away from the seduction of technology (stripped of my computer or phone), I always find that quiet time is golden—if I slow down enough to listen. Really listen.

From my own experience, I’ve come up with a theory. Not a new theory; I think that mystics have known this for thousands of years. We all have an inner wisdom that we can tap into if we just slow down and hear it. But it’s hard to slow down enough to hear it if I’m staring into the other-worldly glow of my computer screen or otherwise engaged in the multitude of distractions—stuffing more and more activity into my day, just because I can or I think I need to.

That whisper of thought can be in the mockingbird’s repertoire while I’m idly drifting on the swing in our backyard. Or that “still, small voice” can come in the form of a creative idea floating through my mind on my walk—an idea I would miss if I weren’t listening. The face of a loved one appearing in my mind can remind me that I need to write a note and let them know that they are dear to my heart.

I don’t think that anyone on their deathbed says, “Gee, I wish I could have worked one more day.” Unfortunately, there can be regrets at the end of life, “I wish I’d said “I love you” more, or “I wish I’d taken the time to do those things that made me happy.” I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to listen now. I want to make my dreams a reality. I want to love well (and be loved). I want to hear, really hear, what my heart is telling me.

I believe in listening. Really listening and hearing the promptings of that part of me that is truer, clearer, more loving—that still, small voice within.