Friday, December 10, 2010
Thank you, Listening Ear
Listening Ear, you are often all I need. A solution in yourself.
To be heard, to be acknowledged,
to be given space in which to differ.
You are evidenced by Fritz' mother telling me how he explained, Emma J is going to write. Don't infringe on her writing. It's who she is. You are evidenced by that full circle of forbearance and message passed and received.
You are the young daughterly doctor who, when there is no time for this week's testing, says instead, That's fine. Why don't you just tell me how you're doing? and for my allotted fifteen minutes probes by words only, and then writes up a prescription of goals that addresses more than symptoms.
You are preeminently my mother's ear where for years and years I have laid out everything at once until I can see what I'm saying and begin to untangle.
But not everyone believes in you, Listening Ear. A friend, a woman of great sense and reliable kindness, recently said, Nobody likes to listen to someone who complains.
Which gave me pause.
Because I do.
Well, yes, complain, obviously. But also, I do actually like to hear other people's sorrows, their secret stories and also the sideshows they put on to talk themselves up and over the present challenge.
Listening to complaints seems to me a useful way to recognize my scattered kindred - if I like the way a person whines and grouses, if their moans melt my heart and their rants encourage me and their kvetching fills me with delight and if I can get them to laugh in turn when I traipse out my own complaint, trailing its tragicomedienne rags and banners, then I know we're kissing cousins somehow.
Besides I don't know if I quite trust someone who never complains. Or I wouldn't if I actually met such an one.
I do know people who say they never complain. And have listened to them as well . . .
I suppose I can think of one or two to whom I have never come close enough to be trusted with any private lament. Should one be grateful to them for their reticence?
But I am most heartily grateful for the ears that have held my stories and sighs. And grateful, too, for you, my own Listening Ear, for bringing me material always for my work and many secret grins of delight and new windows of perspective, besides giving me something to do in this world both useful and obviously needed.