October 20

The older I grow, the more I listen
to people who don't talk much.

Germain G. Glidden


Today's Meditation:

Some people think that people who don't talk much don't have much worthwhile to say.  Sometimes, I'm sure, this is the case.  In my experience, though, I've found that the people who talk a great deal tend to have the least to say, while those who talk less also know the value of silence because they're truly listening to others who are speaking.

I've been disappointed as I've grown older to find that many people aren't interested in learning more as they grow older.  Many people actually stop listening to others because they're so attached to their own beliefs as to what is right and wrong that they aren't willing to learn from others about many of the important things that still remain to be learned.  My personal goal is to continue learning until the day I die, because I never know when I'm going to learn more things that make me happy and allow me to enjoy life more.

The people who speak less, it seems, often are the people who speak only when it seems important to do so.  They don't speak just to hear themselves speak, but to relate something important to others.  And because they speak less than others, they are able to spend time listening and thinking about what they hear rather than just trying to come up with something else to say.

I think an apt analogy is the difference between sap and syrup.  A person who talks a lot is like sap--you can get tons of it from a tree, but it has little value and no flavor.  And it can take more than 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup, which has been distilled and processed to become something wonderful.  People who talk little are those who have listened to those who talk much and have taken just the good stuff to give us some very valuable syrup.

There are people who talk a lot who have some great things to say, of course.  But I'll follow Germain's advice here and pay closer attention when I hear the words of someone who doesn't speak an awful lot, for in the fewer words I believe I'll find the greater treasure.

Questions to consider:

How often do you spend time listening closely to people who talk little?

Why do so many people who talk little have such great things to say?

Why do so many people who talk a lot have so few good things to say?

For further thought:

There is a silence that matches our best possibilities
when we have learned to listen to others.  We can
master the art of being quiet in order to be able to
hear clearly what others are saying. . . . We need to
cut off the garbled static of our own preoccupations
to give to people who want our quiet attention.

Eugene Kennedy

More on listening.


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