Have you ever listened to the silence of an audience while someone is telling a story? It is not a silence at all but an energy that crackles with life. The people in the seats anticipate the speaker’s next words, we hope for an outcome that won’t devastate and we forget to breathe while we hang on words that now are alive in our hearts. We all hear the same story, but is it the same for everyone who hears it?
It never is. It can’t be because our minds and guts process the words we hear through what we’ve lived.
Maybe a story is the first time that we’ve heard the experience of parenting with a mental illness. Or we are offered a new perspective of life growing up without a mother. Did we just hear about becoming a parent when only a teen when we were in our 40s as first time parents? Are we celebrating someone being married for the first time at 65 when we were 18? A story is never the same for anyone hearing it because our lives can’t help but weave into the tale of another.
We talk a lot about telling our stories with LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. Our shows wouldn’t happen without that. But we need to talk about Receiving these stories.
To tell and to listen, they are impossible without each other. When we listen, our stories live again-they don’t disappear once the words are spoken. We store the words we’ve heard and the moment when they resonate with us. It’s then that our stories take on a second life. One where the words received are sown now in our own life.
Write your stories, and yes, share them, tell them, but listen to the stories of others.
Our stories are ours to tell and ours to hear in a way that no one else can. We tell the stories no one else can in the same way that we HEAR these stories in a way that no one else can. Because our lives are like no one else’s and a story breathes new because of how we receive it.
LISTENing is part of the telling.
Make a promise to yourself to listen to one another, to take in someone’s words and not filter your reaction with what you think you should be thinking. Listen and let a life take space in yours. Reflect in how you hear it, why it falls upon you the way that it does. What is it about that story that affects you. Let it enter your world and see what the world of another offers you.
Listen to your 94 year old grandmother as she tells you a story you’ve heard before, but this time, hear what she is saying. Look into your seven year old’s eyes while he tells you what happened today at lunch, why does he pick this moment to share with you? When your friend posts on social media, before hitting like, wonder what it is about that story that drove them to share it-you’ll read their words differently.
Our lives don’t just stay and end with us. They begin again in one another, it is when we see the person who is inside each of our stories that our connection starts.
This is how we build our communities, and this is why the first word in Listen To Your Mother is LISTEN.