A short story about listening.

There is a voice in my head that I can only hear when everything is quiet. Life can get noisy and it seems like the less important the task (meetings, to do’s, screen time), the softer that voice becomes. This is a story about that voice and what it told me.

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The Pacific Northwest Coast. Photo Cred: Bryan Miles

“Are you listening to me?”

Yesterday my daughter came home from school per usual. I was sitting in front of my MacBook trying to imprint my thoughts onto the screen. We exchanged salutations and she settled in for a snack. After a bit, we started small-talking about school, schedule.. whatever came to mind. This transitioned to what she was learning in her Northwest Studies class. Currently, it seems to be her favorite subject.

She related a fascinating story about the Grand Coulee Dam; its construction, economic benefit and environmental cost to the Pacific Northwest. She was excited about what she learned and wanted to share! It was a fascinating story of how the Dam helped give an economic boost to Seattle. One notable benefit of the Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Plant was that it provided cheap electricity required to process aluminum. Seattle aluminum was then used by Boeing to build airplanes during WWII and beyond. Not only was the Dam used to destroy U.S. war-time enemies, it was good at destroying salmon habitat and crushing the hearts of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans who hold the salmon as a sacred symbol; sacrificing themselves as food for the human population.

Damnation, Ben Knight and Travis Rummel’s Patagonia produced documentary touches on this topic as it explains the problem of our colliding energy and environmental crises. It is currently streaming on Netflix right now. I recommend giving it a go.

 


Listen to people in a way that they know you are listening to them. Be present.

It took about three minutes to relate her story, then I went to hot yoga. Yoga has this way of calming my mind of trivial matters, creating a vacuum for inspiration. When I was finished with yoga, The story of the Grand Coulee Dam replayed in my mind. I was grateful that my daughter wanted to share this with me, that it was important for her to do that. Then I wondered, does she know this? I was listening to every word but I wasn’t looking at her, I was looking at my MacBook. I wasn’t engaged with her and I fear that she didn’t know that I was listening to her.

She wasn’t feeling neglected. In fact, she was happy about our conversation but I want to do better. So, next time, I will remember. I will remember that it is important to listen to people in a way that they know you are listening to them.


Bonus Read: Amy Cuddy (@amyjccuddy) has inspired me to reboot the way I interact with people when the stakes are highest. Her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges is a game changer. Chapter 6 is on constant rotation. It will help you understand why you fear and love power.

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