Listening to Dad


Yeah, that listening thing. You can hear a lot when you listen.

I have to say, I become frustrated a lot when talking with Dad. His viewpoints on a lot of things are remarkably different than mine, and I want him to understand, to hear me, to digest what I'm saying, and, well, let's be honest, to stop being a butthead and change his mind so that he agrees with me. Fundamentally, that's what most people want: to be right and have people agree with them.

And things change when I listen.

I hear his frustration with how things are. I hear his dream for a better world where everyone is rational, and honest, and good. I hear his sadness in a wish that won't come true. I hear his heartbreak in the losses he's had. I hear his tone shift into lecture mode when he knows he's lost his audience. I hear his annoyance at being unable to remember things. I hear his loss in at being unable to do things he used to be able to do, activities and solutions that came easily before. I hear his fear of a future full of being told he's doing everything wrong.

And eventually, I hear his gratitude in a life well lived, a live well blessed. I hear his joy in a job well done. I hear his humour in the jokes he tells. I hear the hopes and dreams he still has. I hear the goodness he has, his unshakeable belief that all people have good in them. I hear the stories he's told me a half dozen times already and I see the joy it brings him as he tells it to me for the 73rd time. I hear the pride in the new lessons he's learned, the new technology he's mastered.

And I hear his desire to try. He hasn't stopped trying to make the world a better place. He hasn't given up yet.

There are so many things Dad and I disagree on. When I listen, I realize there are so many things we agree on, we've just had different experiences up until this point. When I listen, I hear what he's trying to say and not what just what I want to hear.

I think I needed to listen to understand that.

Unrelated: this post so did not end up where I thought it would.

2014 theme word


Last year was the first year I recall picking a theme word for the year. I don't recall if I've done it before, I might have. Last year's theme word was Embrace, which made it about a month before it faded from my awareness. Lots of people asking me about it, flak from, well, Arnaud the A-- pretty much dampened my enthusiasm for it, and I stopped with the theme word as I concentrated more on not jumping off the roof at work.

Despite the spectacular failure of last year's theme word to guide me through the year, I'm going to try again with a theme word this year. This year's theme word is


Now, I completely recognize the irony of this word as this year's theme word. You would, too, if you realized I'm about 80% deaf in one of my ears. Newly deaf, no less. So newly deaf that I still don't turn my head the correct way to hear people out of my good ear, I hold the phone up to the deaf ear, and I don't know how to read lips yet. I expect all of these will come with time.

So, to have Listen as my theme word may be odd.

And, yet, it is perfect.

I'm listening more to what other people have to say. Not only just hearing what other people have to say, but listening to what they say. I think this is a good thing. Finding the good parts from the words of people I like and respect is easy. Finding the good parts in the words of people who speak eloquently and well is easy (they summarize what they're saying). Finding the good parts from ignorant or disagreeable or stupid or frustrating people is much, much harder, and requires listening.

And that's my goal for this year, despite my newly acquired handicap.

To listen.