“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
— Winston Churchill
“Aidan, let the violin ring!”
These were the precise words my son’s teacher spoke to him as his finger searched for the A note on his E string. Laurie’s statement was an invitation for Aidan to listen to, and allow the natural beauty and lush overtones of the violin to ring forth and resonate within his body and soul. Well, that may be a bit of a stretch, but note this: when a violinist plays in tune with her instrument, the violin naturally resonates with brilliance, clarity and beauty. In other words, its voice is awakened. The violin is always ready; ready to soar, to dance, to sing, to cry, to lament – always ready to reveal its brilliance to the world. This brilliance is in its very DNA, for this is “who” the violin is and why it was created.
And you, you are like the violin.
The reason it feels like…
- you’re running on empty
- your marriage is cold like winter
- your burning desire to succeed has been extinguished
- you’re alone
- your life is meaningless
is because you’ve forgotten something sacred about yourself; you’ve forgotten who you are. And since you don’t like the groundless feelings of emptiness, uncertainty, and impotence (and who does), you find ways to escape.
Therefore, if you find yourself…
- surfing porn
- pouring yourself another drink
- watching tv for hours and hours on end
- fighting with, or giving your spouse the silent treatment
- having another slice of chocolate cake
- working overtime, again
you might want to pay attention. And I don’t say this to cast judgement; most certainly not! Rather, I’m suggesting that these behaviours could be leveraged to help you create a brave new world.
You see, we’re really good at finding ways to escape from the uncertain feelings of sadness, alienation, fear, and powerlessness. We simply are. And like a violinist who forgets that her instrument was created to shine and naturally reveal its unique and brilliant voice to the world, we keep running and searching for that next “fix” that will alleviate our suffering and give us a moment’s pleasure.
The crazy thing is, we keep repeating our self-limiting patterns of behaviour over and over again. And as we do, as we keep running down this road we’re traveling on, our inner world becomes noisier and we feel less connected with who we truly are. And then, we forget. We wake up one morning and simply forget who we are; and, as a result, the bitter taste of atrophy lingers on our tongue and weighs heavy in our gut.
So how do we stop this crazy pattern of behaviour? How do we stop this pattern that is silently destroying us while honouring how we feel right in this moment?
I suggest we learn the art of listening. That’s right, listening! Listening, rather than fighting or escaping is the key that will unlock the door to a world where intimacy, adventure, excitement, purpose and creativity reign.
Let me repeat what I said before: You are not the problem! What you need is to tap into your natural ability to listen so that you can create and experience the abundant life your soul longs for.
Any why does your soul yearn for this? Because you are just like the violin; and the violin, in the hands of a mindful musician, will always reveal its natural, brilliant voice to the world.
You are created to shine and anything less, is simply less.
- Imagine if the feeling of “running on empty” is actually a blessing because it’s a means by which your body and soul seek to grab your attention?
- Imagine if your wife, who ignites the fires of anger within you, is not your enemy but actually someone who is reflecting your own hidden needs and desires back to you?
- Imagine if you surf porn because you’re searching for transcendence, not because you’re defective, bad, or a crazed sex addict?
- Imagine if all the dissonance you experience in your life and relationships is because you are playing out of tune with your natural brilliance?
C.S. Lewis stated, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
The question each of us must ask ourselves today: Am I listening to the pain in my life, or am I running from it?
Winston Churchill referred to listening as an act of courage. German theologian and philosopher, Paul Tillich wrote, “The first duty of love is to listen.” And Sa’k’ej Henderson, a Native American Elder, stated, “To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.”
To this end, I contend that learning and mastering the art of listening is one of the most courageous, loving and life changing activities that we can do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for the world we all live in.
Rather than fighting or giving into the feelings of emptiness, fear and unhappiness, what if you could harness your God-given ability to listen? What if you could learn how to tune your ear to your emotional health, so that, with time and practice, your life could resonate with all of its wonder, brilliance and reverence?
As my son’s wise teacher proclaimed, “Let your violin ring!” The world will be blessed if you do.
Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.
Photo via Shutterstock