ginny: on listening

Listening to music.

Listening to the ocean breaking against the shore.

Listening to the tv on in the other room as a baseball game is broadcast on a warm summer evening.

Listening to your baby’s cry at three in the morning when all you want is for her to go to sleep.

Listening for the opening of the front door when your child is out late.

Listening for a strange sound to repeat itself when you are home alone late at night.

Listening for a break in the conversation so you can say what’s on your mind.

Listening for an expected insult or a slight or a putdown.

The world is full of so much noise, how is it we decide what to focus our attention on?

Right now as I am typing this I can hear crickets chirping and a train rumbling on its tracks.  I hear the keyboard clatter in fits and starts as I type, and then backspace to fix words or erase whole paragraphs.  I thought this would be a much easier topic for me to write about but once again I’m struggling.

Years ago a friend sent me a horoscope that a woman had done for me based on my date and time of birth, and where I was born.  One of the things that she wrote was that I needed to start meditating right then, ASAP.  I bought books and cds on meditating.  I studied various techniques on how to meditate.  I even dabbled a bit in self-hypnosis, which is just another form of meditation.  I have all of the information I need to begin meditating, and yet I resist.  After one or two sessions of sitting and breathing, I habitually find other things to do. I am afraid of the voice behind the voices in my head.  I am afraid to listen to what it might say.

There’s this author.  Her name is Oriah Mountain Dreamer – don’t judge either me or her based on her name – and she uses this beautiful analogy for how she knows that there is one whom she calls The Beloved.  She writes about being out in her neighborhood as a child right after the sun has gone down.  She knows every nook and cranny, but as the light begins to fade and shadows emerge it becomes a slightly different place.  It’s a little scary, but she feels secure because she knows that at one point her mother or father will call to her and tell her it is time to come home.  That “knowing” that someone is waiting for her to call her home, that’s what she carries around with her as she lives her life.  Sorry, Oriah, if I have completely butchered that analogy.

To head on back to me and meditating, it’s like I know someone is waiting for me to stop and listen, but I am afraid of what I am going to hear.  So I keep myself busy listening to and listening for other things.  At this point you might be thinking that I am afraid the voice is going to tell me that I am bad or wrong or that I should be doing this or that other thing.  When people are afraid of hearing something it is usually bad news they are afraid of.  I am actually afraid of the opposite.

Here’s the thing.  I have held myself together my entire life in this tight little package, protecting myself from being hurt by not allowing others to get but so close to me.  I could tell you stories of mean girls and horrible boys in grade school who teased and tormented me, and they would make up some of the reason why I close myself off.  But the fact of the matter is that someone whom I loved very much when I was a young girl betrayed my trust and stepped over the line of what is right and wrong.  I didn’t tell my parents, and I never told anyone for many years.  I have lived for 40 years protecting myself because no one else can protect me.  A lot of how I define myself is wrapped up in having to keep myself safe, and so I keep my distance.

If I were to meditate, what would the voice behind the voices in my head tell me?  Would it tell me that I no longer have to be so closed off?  Would it tell me that it is okay, that I am loved, that I am and have always been protected by that which is both a part of me and larger than all of us?  If that were to happen, then who would I be?

There are times when I hear the voice behind the voices in my head, and I live for a moment or a few hours knowing that I am loved and we are one, but I can never stay there.  I retreat back into myself – I have been told that I live in a cave and am disconnected from what is going on around me at times.  I don’t want to lose control, and I sure don’t want to voluntarily give up control.  Meditating is voluntarily giving up control of the thoughts inside my head.  Meditating is surrender.  Surrender and giving up control leads to bad things happening.

Intellectually I know this is not necessarily so.  Unfortunately for me I don’t always listen to reason.

I would love to end this post with a promise to meditate.  I would love to decide to listen to the voice that is behind the voices in my head.  I can feel it calling to me, but I don’t trust it enough to let go.  I think about it, though.  I think about what life would be like if I could surrender and not keep myself so tightly wrapped.

One day I hope to give myself permission to listen.

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