Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Words of Wisdom

Scalzi Speaks:


Weekend Assignment #54: Tell us all a single piece of wisdom you've learned from personal life experience. It can be a small thing, it can be a big thing, a simple tip or trick or the most important thing you've ever learned from life. But whatever it is, you should be able to state it in one sentence. That way people will remember it easier.

Extra Credit: Tell us: Would you have listened to your own bit of advice as a teenager? Be honest, now.



Listen with your third ear.


Did you know that we all have three ears?  The two on either side of your head process the sounds of life and the words we hear  The third ear picks up the background noise. The longing behind the smile.  The sadness people try to hide.  The fears they cannot share. The evils they have endured.  

Listen with your third ear and you can hear the tears that have been shed during long, lonely nights.  The nightmares of childhood trauma.  The emotions torn asunder by the loss of a marriage. The scars you can't see from internal wars.  The humiliation of abuse.  

The third ear comes in handy when children can't sleep. When spouses are angry.  When a friend seems adrift. Or your boss is disgruntled.  

Listen and you can hear the melancholy in someone's hysterical laughter.  The envy and the jealousy in their comments.  The despair in their anger.

My former mother-in-law had always been described as a saint. She once considered becoming a nun. But she was a lawyer too.  First in her class when she was the only woman among all the men in her classes. The first time I met her I remember thinking how short she was compared to me.  And what enormous breasts she had. Again, compared to me.

I was six feet. She was barely five.  I had been a model. She had once been beautiful. I towered over her. She was stooped from the weight of her chest pulling on her shoulders.  

After spending a day getting to know each other, she summed up our first encounter by saying,  "Well, I think it's about time we had someone flatchested in the family."

Ah, those lefthanded compliments.  That's what two of my ears heard.  But the third one had been listening, too. So I honored her need to cut me down to size.  And I always made sure that I was sitting down in her presence after that. Now she wouldn't feel so intimidated by me any more.  

A friend of thirty years called to chat and our conversation meandered all over.  He revealed that he had become a volunteer for a woman's charity that provided babysitting for single moms trying to return to the work force.  Many of them had been leaving their kids alone, and unsupervised. He had signed up as a babysitter.  I could hear how happy he was caring for children who were at risk.  But I also heard a cry for help that may have gone unheard when he had been vulnerable.

What was it exactly that I had heard?  A year later in another wideranging conversation, I found out that he had been molested by a beloved cub scout leader.   And despite his protestations to the contrary, "It didn't affect me," it was clear that it had left its mark on his life.  

Two ears help you listen.  The third ear can really hear.

EXTRA CREDIT:

My mother taught me to listen with two ears but to hear the deeper meaning with the third.  When I was a teenager she saw how much I enjoyed being in school shows along with writing and performing skits at the dances. One day, some time during my senior year in high school, when I was contemplating going into medicine, she said, "You know, you'd be good in advertising."  I poo poohed what she said, of course. In college, even though I was taking courses like zoology and microbiology, I was in the school shows just like high school, writing and singing for competitions between the dorms and sororities. It became pretty clear what my passions were. And when I graduated I knew where I was going.

My mom had heard my voice long before I did.  She not only listened to me, she heard what I said.  

Like nobody else.  Before or since.  Thanks, Mom.

11 comments:

somenuttychic said...

First, I've always meant to ask you if you had done some modeling. You have a very distinctive, confident presence about you that screams, MODEL. (Not to mention, your winter shot in the About Me section is gorgeous.)

About the third ear, you are spot on! Unfortunately, it's not something that everyone will accomplish. And it's not because they can't. It's because they *won't*. Listening with your third ear is both a blessing and a curse. Although you will gain of wealth of knowledge, the price of that knowledge is responsibility. It means that you have to be compassionate and kind and giving even when you don't want to or don't have the energy to. But it's such a worthwhile trade off.  

tdain2003 said...

Here! Here! with what Nikki said.... I can see you being a model and she's right.... your picture is beautiful.

This is probably the best advice I've read from this assignment.  It's really not hard to listen with the third ear.... it speaks of a person's character... and how they relate to others.... sure, it's easy to ignore what your third ear is hearing but when you don't ignore.... when you care enough to really hear.... it speaks volumes about who you are.  I agree with Nikki again.... that with knowledge comes responsibility.  

This is one of my favorite entries.... thank you, Mrs. L
Tracy

ahhliving said...

Mrs L is very wise! but I knew that already, and in my opinion regarding the realm of wisdom, these shared words of wisdom are the foundation of all other wisdom. I had not thought of it as a third ear, although a third ear is the same as the way I had held it in my belief, that with two ears you can listen but only with the heart can you hear.
Very beautiful, and the first true inspiration of my day today. Dalene of AHH at http://journals.aol.com/ahhliving/AHH

jevanslink said...

Three of the wisest women I know have stopped by to bring me affirmation.  Thank you.  Mrs. L

cneinhorn said...

I loved this entry Mrs L...and I live this.  I truly do....always listen not only to what is said, but to what is NOT said...read between the lines...but I like the way you put it... listen with your third ear.  So very true!

~ www.jerseygirljournal.com

gabreaelinfo said...

Great advice! I am polling today on my journal. Please take a peak and let me know what you think. Graphics or not?
Gabreael
http://journals.aol.com/gabreaelinfo/GabreaelsBodyMindSpiritJournal/

robbush6 said...

First that pair of eyes in the back of my head, now the extra ear. I'm not a mother. I'm a mutant from another dimension.

Now, stop making me cry at work with all these heartfelt stories.

judithheartsong said...

this is lovely........ it is wonderful to hear and be heard. Bless your Mom. judi

ez2cee said...


What appropriate words of wisdom!  So often, I fear that people don't even listen with ONE ear.

Thanks for this entry!

judypearllove said...

I loved how you put this and all your comments. It's all very true. The longer I live the more I find it true and easier for me to do and to accept what my third ear hears. My single piece of wisdom I've learned from a personal life expeerience is just as profound but not happy."My lesson I learned was when someone you love dies be very careful of who appears out of the shadows of evil to harm you, steal, lie, cheat and want to hurt you in every possible way while you are at your weakest sadest and most broken part of your life on earth." It may be your neighbor, family member oh brother watch out for those people, friend any and everyone you know. You think you need to listen to your 3rd ear through life just wait until death comes to you. I've seen people steal flowers off a poor woman's grave before they even put dirt over her casket in front of the preacher and much worse. Would I listened as a teenager to this advice? no, I didn't believe people you've known all your life or most of it would do this to each other until I lived it several times in several degrees. I love your journal you make a person really reflect.
http://journals.aol.com/judypearllove/ToBlessedToBeStressed/

belfastcowboy75 said...

What an insightful piece of wisdom, Mrs. L. Much better than my "Walk with your third leg."