On Listening

I am reading Julia Cameron’s new book, The Listening Path, right now. It expands on the ideas in The Artist’s Way with an emphasis on listening and how it enriches our lives. She argues that by mindfully listening, including making time for silence, we can become more creative. I am not ready to share my thoughts about the book just yet, but I came across a couple things while reading it.

First, I heard an episode of the podcast Hidden Brain called “Why Conversations Go Wrong.” There is an anecdote about a dinner party with guests from New York and California and England. Each person from one of those places practiced slightly different lengths of pauses during conversation. As a result, the New Yorkers bulldoze everyone else throughout the evening because they think a shorter pause is appropriate. They were perceived as interrupters, but really they were just talking along to show enthusiasm! I had never before thought about cultural differences that may exist in how we listen.

Second, I watched the episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend where Paula and Scott start trying to rekindle and save their marriage. She opens up to him to explain Rebecca’s love life, which she has been watching vicariously, and he is riveted by the stories. Once Paula’s story ends she says to Scott, “it’s so sexy when you listen!” Humor aside, listening is truly a key element to any relationship.

All these synchronous ideas about listening I found led me to thinking about how it is like breathing: one of those constantly occurring things we take for granted. If we appreciated it how much richer could our lives be? By not consciously deciding how we listen in each moment, we prohibit the feeling of being grounded. Grounded-ness is the feeling I felt most after reading and doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way. I can only hope The Listening Path leaves me feeling the same.

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