I’ve always been in awe of my dad’s ability to tune out the rest of the world at will, and focus his attention in the present moment. It seems to come naturally to him in a way that can be elusive to the rest of us. I think it’s partly because he’s an avid reader. During my childhood, his books frequently accompanied him to the dinner table (only if he was at a good part and couldn’t put it down!). He’s quick to recommend the books he loves, but rarely reveals anything specific about them. He’ll share one or two details, like it’s really funny or it reminds him of another author, but leaves you to draw your own conclusions. He knows that the way he interprets a book will be slightly different than the way anyone else does, and he enjoys discussing those aspects of shared books. Well-developed characters who straddle the moral lines of life and trust their own hard-earned wisdom are his jam, because that is exactly how he lives his own life. He is brilliant at listening to the beat of his own drum, never questioning whether the music is good or not; knowing that it is infinitely more important to make music for yourself rather than try to satisfy the larger audience.
I am currently sitting next to my dad in his hospital room. It’s 7:30am and the hospital is alive with more sounds than I could isolate. I know this because I spent several minutes with my eyes closed trying to do just that. He is sleeping peacefully even though he’s surrounded by a barrage of noises, and his oxygen levels are hovering at their lowest acceptable rate. His bottom lip has shifted underneath his bipap mask and the seal has lost integrity. I wonder if I should wake him to readjust it, or continue to let him sleep while he can. Turns out, my (in)decision didn’t matter at all, because a doctor just entered the room and began talking to him. She immediately noticed that his mask was crooked, yet waited until she finished her exam and evaluation before getting the respiratory tech to fix it. I was comforted by her lack of urgency about it, and I felt my own fears relax. Watching her reactions told me nearly as much about his condition as her words did, and I listened closely to both ‘voices’.
Listening is a very personal act. It connects us to the people and things around us, peripherally, in ways that our vision cannot; helping to round out the full picture of what we see. I try to envision the things we see as the masculine/yang approach, and the things we hear as the feminine/yin interpretation – both of them equally valuable to the Whole of our perspective. The rest of our senses all play important parts too, but these two tend to dominate how we evaluate our environments overall. Like everything else in life, we have learned to rely on certain patterns and behaviors because they tend to make us feel safe and in control as much as possible.
Until Covid, how often did we consider or appreciate our ability to smell? With the exception of my friend Scott, who lost his smell years ago, I can’t recall a single conversation that questioned our ability to judge good and bad with our noses–we just did it. Stinky shit is not only a physical reality for every living thing, it has also become a metaphor for our negative feelings. When we ‘smell a rat’, we instinctively hold our breath, depriving our bodies of free-flowing oxygen, and fostering fear, mentally. The emotions that ricochet from each encounter make it very difficult for us to hear the spiritual awareness that exists underneath our personal belief systems. The often hidden awareness that we are all one–all connected–is hard to buy, given the myriad beliefs that stand between our Ego and our Souls.
I spent my childhood questioning the validity of things like ESP, Reincarnation and UFOs; instinctively feeling like we are able to move objects with our minds, and then some. I’ve always played around with those possibilities, creatively blurring the lines of fact and fiction with something in between what I was being told was true. I had to take summer school to pass my junior year, and I was enthralled with a class about Mythology. There was a lot happening in my psyche at that time, some of which I have only recently begun to unpack, 37 years later, and it set me up to question my surroundings. I can see where I had to make a choice: live in fear, or believe that there was more to our experience than the effects of things we have no real control over. This has led me to question everything around me from an existential standpoint. The Dr. Demento Show song, Existential Blues, showed up with the right combination of pointed humor and objectivity to push me into the abyss of curiosity and wonder about our universe and how it ‘works’.
Were the stories of Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses any less “real” than the stories I had heard from the Bible? I wasn’t sure. It all seemed like a metaphor to me, and to this day I can make the case that Evolution and Creation can be the same thing, depending on perspective. The more I listen to my inner reactions to what I hear about “truth”, the more I find a simplified view of what I am looking at. We can generally agree that we are 8 billion different personalities with our own unique view of how it all comes together, but a consensus beyond that is hard to achieve. Starting with our origins - namely, whether or not we are all connected to each other by some deeply rooted energetic system that we have forgotten how to access for unlimited support.
All the way back to our earliest suspected civilizations, we have existed as individuals coming together to build common structures and resources. We can speculate using the data science has collected in its attempt to understand the question of how and why we are here, as we take steps into untangling the answers. Our thick roots make it hard to listen to the inner voice that continues to be present in every single one of us, as human beings. Our ability to listen from the inside seems to always move us to higher ground, emotionally, regardless of outcome. I am encouraged by our increased ability to listen to our own guidance, and in my family, we are watching it play out with my dad’s recovery.
eThe Doctors who are treating him can’t hide their surprise at his increased progress, but as his family, we know the strength he possesses. A week ago, they wanted us prepared to accept that he might never wake up, and we did that, easily. What they did not anticipate was that we would take his strength straight to the depths of our souls, imagining him healed and home, well past the ongoing noises of the busy hospital. There have been a few relevant songs that confirmed these feelings. We could have easily dismissed them as coincidence, but we have learned to listen to them for inner truth. When he woke up days ahead of their timeline, we felt the power of that inner connection, and we watched the hospital staff connect to it, too - just a little. They often call these things miracles, but we describe it as recognizing our ability to creatively affect our environments by listening to our soul voices with gratitude for the powerful connection.