I have always tried to be a good listener, and mostly I suppose I've been all right. I like to know things, and listening can be a very good way to find them out. Also, among the people I really like, I am extremely keen to hear what they have to say. But, in the past, I have always suffered from the occasional weakness that afflicts most listeners. I am so intent on what I think and what I have to say that I can fall into merely taking turns, or, sometimes, I hear things through such intense personal filters that I don't really hear them at all. Also, with strangers and people more distant to me, sometimes I just don't care. People are not always fascinating and sometimes all my little listening withdraws into me so I can try to convey, through body language, an urgent need for it all to stop. I just want to go back to my private thoughts.
But lately I have noticed a change.
It's all this writing.
I write some kind of essay everyday. Sometimes it might be a comic little shaggy dog story. Sometimes it's observational, a plea, an idea, my heart. I really like doing it. But it's every day. I need a lot of inspiration. I find myself throwing myself into bits of experience, into conversation in a different way. I'm not looking for material exactly. That's not how it works. I just want to see everything more clearly, and see more of it. It is seeing the world that lights all the little fires.
People tell me mundane things, deluded things, fascinating things, true things, lies, trivia, jokes, complaints, feelings, dreams, plans, disappointments, technicalities, and charming anecdotes. The same things people tell people everywhere. The world here at the Library is full of rhythms, delights, irritations, surprises and much relentless proceeding of the slow minute hands of our clocks. I used to think I was free to throw away what I wanted, but now the little drawer I put all this stuff in, the little drawer that always seemed crammed with visions of the world as it is, keeps getting emptied, and the onus is always on me to collect more. For good or ill it turns out there is only one really good way to do so. Listening.