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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

What You Don’t Need to Hear

A note from Carl:

Good Morning,

This morning, these powerful lines from William Stafford are alive for me:

“The things you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing the things you do not have to hear dulls your hearing.
And the things you know before you hear them; these are you and the reason you are in the world.”

-William Stafford

I love coming back to these lines over and over again as self reflection. As we are entering the holiday season with an increase of activity, gatherings, social and family, just having these in the background can be helpful.
Is the conversation I am having life-giving?

Am I saying things that do not need to be said? Am I hearing things I do not do need to hear? Is there
a way I could change that?

What You Don't Need to HearWe can put so much of our attention on what we digest in terms of food…
Is it local, gluten-free, organic, genetically modified?
Rarely do we put so much interest in what we are ingesting through other senses.

How many websites did I visit today?

What news stories, or facebook feeds have come in? Has is it enlivened or dulled my hearing?

Am I hearing things, in Stafford’s words,
“that are me, and are the reason I am in the world?”

This is why I am so grateful for the poets.

Growing up outside of New York City, the news was on every morning and night reporting each awful thing that had occurred in the City that day. Suffice it to say my hearing was dulled.

We have shared neurologist Rick Hanson’s image of our how our
brains are wired to hold on to negative experience like velcro, and let go of positive experience like teflon.
Our news sources can multiply that negativity bias exponentially.

I appreciate when I have the presence of to pause and think,
“Do I need to click on that article? Do I need to hear this?”
More often, the recognition comes after, in the dulled hearing hangover, when I think, wow- I really didn’t need to hear that.
It is not that I want to disconnect from what is happening in the world, there is so much that is alive in the world that I want to be deeply touched and moved by. Often for me, to feel connected to what is happening at a deeper level requires less volume of information, and more time to pause and really take something in, rather than scanning some intense news story between checking the Jazz scores and the weather.
It can be so helpful to follow news with a chaser of a good poem. :) Here is a sweet one from David Whyte. We are so looking forward to his Salt Lake City visit in February.

What You Don't Need to HearTHE LIGHTEST TOUCH

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests your whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

– David Whyte

Wishing you well,
Carl

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