Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trampolines in my Throat




Some of my biggest struggles in this life are in regards to communicating difficult truths. Because these conversations can be hard for me, sometimes I put them off until, well, until I can't put them off anymore. When I can't put them off anymore, it feels like words are bouncing on trampolines in my throat and might jump out, willy-nilly-any-minute style. The result of this physical sensation is, me, getting pretty anxious.

Once, on my favorite podcasts, On Being, I learned about this lady named Katy Payne. Katy is an acoustic biologist who has spent years studying elephants and whales. Turns out, elephants are GREAT at listening. According to Katy, on a fairly regular basis, the whole herd, sometimes up to 50 of them, will suddenly be still, for up to a minute. Katy and I are on the same page about a minute: it's a long time! Especially for everybody to be still! She says when they freeze, they tighten and lift and spread their ears. Great lady Katy goes on to talk about how stillness is an important part of her life, too. She says, "I see my responsibility, if I have one, as being to listen." I feel you, Katy, and I believe the other (at least) half of talking is listening.

Yesterday, I had some stuff to say. A few full-on sentences stepped up to the trampoline, ready to be heard. Eeeeeeeeeeeeks. But, somehow, I managed to allow the noises that were coming in through my ears to be louder than the noises booming between my throat and my brain. That practice helped me to stay present, even calm and ultimately, it offered to me the right time to speak. Although I was still nervous, I felt more like I was answering a question instead of screeching a piece. I like questions. And I find often, from listening, there's answers.

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