Stop Listening and Learn To Just Be Silent

Are you ready to learn something unexpected? If youth is fondly recalled, and youth is about new experiences, then think about the associations of new, as a concept. New is exciting! Are you ready?

Stop listening, and learn to just be silent.

That phrase is a novel concept for you, isn’t it? Do you think it’s even possible to follow? Isn’t it the definition of sleeping– being silent and not listening?

Not exactly. There’s no learning to sleep. Try again.

Are we talking about zoning out? That’s closer to the concept. Again, there’s not a lot of learning required to zone out. The object of Stop Listening is to develop and put to use an otherwise unthinkable alternative.

Why would we want to do that? Well, consider this. If in our lives we could manage to tackle unthinkable alternatives, and possibly make utility out of even one of them, then the approach would automatically graft to useful purposes.

Have you ever been in a room at night, when the only light came from the TV? Of course you have. Picture it, you’re sitting comfortably on your couch watching detective Lennie Briscoe solve a crime. You’ve got a drink within easy reach, and a big bowl of popcorn, just for you, no sharing. Do you know what it’s like to be fixated on that screen? And then all of a sudden you detect a movement, a very slight movement caught by your peripheral vision, happening on the floor, halfway between you and the TV?

Yes? You’ve been there? Do you know what I’m driving at? What did you do? I’ll tell you. You gave the rug the quick two-point check. First check: Was the movement caused by the action on the screen? It was usually that, right? So you shot a look at the rug. But it wasn’t the show’s fault. Not this time. Nope, that’s a quick-moving bug hustling there, a beast of a spider, making a break for it, thinking he’s alone, doing the shady night-time thing, not buying the Law & Order directive of Motion to Suppress. The evidence was before your eyes.

You were frightened, disgusted. Afraid. You set the drama plot aside and you grabbed the tissue box to provide a solid smack, and series of smacks, until that beast was dead.

Congratulations. For the last three paragraphs, you have taken the first steps in learning to focus silence, by involvement in the written word. You got lost in a scene. You were fully involved in the audible world and yet you stopped listening. You didn’t zone out. Didn’t fall asleep. Just the opposite, in fact.

Answers can be in the unobvious. If your answer to the simple question of “How does water respond to a crack?” is, “The water will leak out,” then you should become familiar with another way to think. At the least, you should be prepared to analyze from a ridiculous perspective. The training would provide all sorts of nonsense– and one great idea. Cracks can stop the progress of water, which is the opposite of a leak. Your experience in the Stop Listening technique would help you identify what’s workable.

This activity is an exercise in thought. One day I was on a Teams call that included my boss’s new boss. We, the work team of about a half dozen, were introducing ourselves to him, and he to us. It didn’t happen, but what if he asked me, “What’s on your mind? What are you trying to accomplish, what are you challenging yourself with?”

I imagined handing it over: “Stop listening, and learn to just be silent. That sir, is what is on my mind, quite a bit.” How could he argue with that phrase? How could he, or anyone, quickly attack this? Sure the Teams group would laugh at the ridiculousness of the words. But being a boss’s boss, with a big mind, he could respond with, “Ah ha, tell us what that means!”

I would explain it this way. If you take the phrase at face value, yes it’s a silly turn on “Stop talking and learn to listen.” Think of this. If for a moment we accept the Stop Listening concept as valid, solvable, something that could actually be done through higher thinking and logic, well then, what other impossible things could also be solved?

Answers can be in the unobvious. Cracks can stop water.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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