Listening

More rain. A night of it, actually, pounding my skylights with brash, piano-like tinkling. I awoke several times in the evening to listen to this raw and non-rhythmic beat, sometimes heavy, and then none at all. My own mind often seems to work within the same pattern. It will be busy and loud and hide all my true thoughts from me, as it speaks in words and ideas that seem irrelevant or foreign. Then come quiet, still times, when I can barely hear anything, but what I do hear makes sense to me, and sounds reasonable enough for me to own as mine.

My drifting mind often seems as if it doesn’t really belong to me, but to other forces, other voices, that drown out that part of me that I regard as being me. I think I have listened too long to too many voices and noises that want to remove my core energy and being, when I should have put such distraction to rest. After enough years of living, the priorities for what I think important to hear, have narrowed. I once could be entertained by any form of novelty. I had the eagerness and interest to be filled with almost any idea that our culture could throw at me. Now I’m aware of my thinking resources having a time limit to them. I simply do not have the capacity to absorb, as I once did. What is the result of all that I did absorb? Did all the things I filled my mind and spirit with have any lasting value?

The great thoughts now speak more easily and forthright to me. The apostle Paul and the philosopher Plato have more relevance to me than the evening news. The news is redundant; same old short-lived sensations, with hardly ever a break, and nothing that I can take away from the nightly news desk performances to carry with me forever. That’s what I’m looking for, something I can hang on to forever. If I didn’t believe there was a forever, I wouldn’t go looking for it. But since I have this innate sense or intuition that there is a forever, it becomes important for me to try to discover it in some small way or other. Heart and mind are a couple of the big tools I use for the search, which is why I know how easily my mind gets clogged with trivia and chaos.

Reading Emerson reminds me, in the following quote, to do what he calls “low listening”:

“There is a soul at the center of nature and over the will of every man…we prosper when we accept its advice…we need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word.”

Some might call it meditation, prayer, or contemplation. It’s a conscious awareness of part of my mind I was given at birth that slowly becomes drowned out and forgotten by the part of my mind that I cultivate in order to survive on the planet. The part I was given at birth still lives, and will be when I’m gone. It’s my connection with divinity. My personality may go, but I’ll keep that original gift. If I listen carefully, and keep my busy day-to-day mind quiet, I may hear more clearly.

When I go out at night and look at the stars, I don’t see the most distant ones unless I turn my head or eyes sideways and view with my peripheral vision, which sees more sharply. Then I see stars that surprise me because I wouldn’t otherwise see them. When I listen low, I don’t know what I might hear. But I know that if I don’t listen low, I won’t hear much of anything except the noise of the world. If I lose the life of the mind I have found while living on earth, I will have found the other part of my mind that is always alive.

When I came into being, it was a not a result of chaos and noise, but because of love between two people. They had in mind for me a path, a destiny, a plan in their minds for me to become a part of this world. Their love guided and nurtured the mind I was given at birth, and their concern was that I keep intact that mind that they had brought forth. All their careful purpose has kept me somewhat centered and focused during this long battle with the world for control of my mind. Now their life is only in my memory. I find guiding principles of my own life dwelling in those memories. And yet, that is not the divine life. I need to ignore the voice of memory when doing lowly listening. Keeping a journal and reading a few treasured books gives me some of the discipline I need. I don’t listen for words, but for guidance.

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