Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Art of Listening"

Late one night several years ago, while attending the Oregon Country Fair, I came across a girl telling a wonderful story about a bush and the magical huayruro seeds that it produces. I don't remember any of the details of the story but vividly remember how captivated I was as I listened to her story.

From the NYT...
I heard the two men talking about a third old man who had recently died. One of them said, “I was visiting him at his home. He started to tell me an amazing story about something that had happened to him when he was young. But it was a long story. Night came, and we decided that I should come back the next day to hear the rest. But when I arrived, he was dead.” 
The man fell silent. I decided not to leave that bench until I heard how the other man would respond to what he’d heard. I had an instinctive feeling that it would prove to be important. 
Finally he, too, spoke. 
“That’s not a good way to die — before you’ve told the end of your story.” 
It struck me as I listened to those two men that a truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans, the storytelling person. What differentiates us from animals is the fact that we can listen to other people’s dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires and defeats — and they in turn can listen to ours.

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