Monday, April 2, 2012

Now I'm ready to start

My new personal anthem, from 3:02 especially. Funny, when this latest Arcade Fire album was released -- and then, IMHO, went on to hold its own as the best of last year -- this track didn't really strike a cord with me. It sure does now.

After some serious reflection, I'm shifting some life stuff around and (re)starting a few new things lately. Perhaps partially motivated by a perfectly glorious transition into spring and all the new life cropping up around me. Spring also means reading poetry for me, a habit I picked up a few years ago from a friend who discovered that the genre of literature he reads tends to shift with the seasons. Yesterday, I revisited an old Mary Oliver favorite and I think it mighta contributed a bit, as well.

I think larger though, I've run the gamut on thinking and considering and weighing and what-if-ing and its simply time to do, move, change. Feels good to have come to this point, but personal transitions have always been a little bit of a stumbling block for me. Helping people come to and navigate change for themselves, I'm your girl; change for myself, less simple. Classic perfectionism. Gotta genetic predisposition for it, which has plausibly been further amplified by reading too much. And having bright friends who have and share all manner of alternative perspectives to be considered.

So the adage goes, "change is a constant." Today, I'm feeling strong and ready.

Listening > Hearing
There's a huge distinction between perceiving sound waves as they interact with the structures of your inner ear and the focused attention, discernment and receptiveness required to really LISTEN. My job requires that I engage in empathic listening about 80% of my day, everyday. In my current role, a fair bit of that happens via email, which is fraught with the peril of being bereft of all the nonverbal communication behind the words and requires a lot of restatement/paraphrasing, checking for understanding and asking of follow up questions. Regardless if the communication is face-to-face or virtual, it takes a lot of energy to do this well and it can be frankly exhausting. I've heard/read compelling arguments that truly great listeners are born not made, but as with any physical training, in time your body does become increasingly more efficient and the act can come to be "second nature" -- something that you can engage in with virtual effortlessness for extended periods, provided you've got the right conditions (rest, energy, support, training, time/release from other obligations, etc). I've been spending time with a colleague who's still working on this stamina for herself, and it's reminding me just how life-changing, even UNIVERSE-changing honing this skill was for me, for others I've known. It absolutely changed my life (positively) and so I find it invigorating to see it happening for someone else.

Regarding listening -- one of my favorite moments from the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction:

Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) to Vincent Vega (John Travolta): "In conversation, do you listen or do you wait to talk?"

Vincent: "I have to admit that I wait to talk, but I'm working on listening."

Would that we were all so self-aware and open as Vincent. ;) Peace, puppy kisses and happy spring to all reading these words.

Now I'm ready to start
I would rather be wrong
Than live in the shadows of your song
My mind is open wide
And now I'm ready to start

Now I'm ready to start
My mind is open wide
Now I'm ready to start
Not sure you'll open the door
To step out into the dark
Now I'm ready!

- Arcade Fire "Ready to Start" from The Suburbs (2011)

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