Jonathan Drane’s The Art of Listening, gives us a poetic interpretation and perfect illustration of what we learned this week on listening as an integral part of communication. We learned that hearing and listening are two totally different concepts with totally different meanings. Hearing is a simple physiological process while listening is more complex requiring effort and practice if one wishes to do it effectively.
I knew something of conversation, or so I thought/until I listened to another
This first line speaks of the difference.
I believe that in the first part of the clause, Drane was referring to hearing, the thing we all do in normal day-to-day conversations. He’s saying that he thought his understanding of a conversation, as the simple exchange of speaking and listening to be accurate until he one day took the time to really listen to another…
Knew something of the talk/ the sounds the chatter
But to listen and to speak when moments call/that is far greater.
This one conversation seemed to open his eyes, opened his mind and caused him to realize that although he may have had the talking aspect of conversation down-packed there is a greater response when someone is speaking and that is to just simply listen and to only speak when the moment calls for it.
Of conversations past/ I no longer can remember
Since the day I silent kept/ and listened to another
There opened up a life/ which had ’til then been merely shadow
It seems as if he had an epiphany of some sort during this one conversation, a life-changing moment where he gained invaluable wisdom and a brand new outlook on life in general.
He couldn’t remember any past conversations but was so affected by this one that he was even inspired to write a lovely poem about it.
At first the life it seemed another’s/ but when I was caught and by the mirror/ The face had changed, it told me of another. Since the day I silent
kept- and listened to another
What he learned that day, I think ended up filtering down through all aspects of his life, humbling him, making him a better person. A light switch was flipped on somewhere inside his brain, he was witnessing a change in his character, his thinking and his behavior, so much so, that he did not recognize himself at first. He said, it seemed like the life of another, as he made the transformation from selfishness to selflessness. This change didn’t require anything but silence, and a heart intent on listening, not just hearing, but really listening- attentively and intentionally to the words, thoughts and feelings of another.