The Lost Art of Listening

You know how it is…you sit down to talk with a friend or loved one, or maybe even a phone call to check on someone you haven’t talked to for a while, and you start the conversation asking how they are doing. This, apparently, is a mistake.

What is the acceptable time limit for continuing to listen to, with nary a whisper of an interruption from you, of all that is going on with them – their health, their lives, their loves, their sex partners, their fears, their strange fetishes, their taste in food, clothing and toothpaste and shampoo, their perceived failures and delirious predictions of their future lives?  15 minutes? 30 minutes?  Stop, man…you say!  An hour or longer? Yes, sometimes.


Our independent and unscientific study recently concluded here at the Asylum has shown us that age of the person you’re extending kindness to by just listening does not have any bearing on the amount of time you must spend listening, with only the occasional “Mmm”, “right”, “ah-huh” offered on your part.

They may be a fresh “Millennial or a seasoned elderly type, it doesn’t matter – for the only thing they are looking for is a live body at the other end of the line, to listen to them.

Chances are they are lost…completely. Chances are they are looking for some type of affirmation that they are lost but don’t want it confirmed by you, only hoping to confirm it from listening to themselves – and from that point, they may, or may not work on themselves. Chances are they seek the solace of their own soul, from just listening to it speak. Or, chances are that none of the above are true and they just dig having another listen to the never-ending melodrama of their lives.

No matter, really. For how many really just listen to us? How many listen and don’t interject their offerings of how to fix ourselves? How many, no matter how bored they may be on the other end, simply listen to us?  So few.

If only the current madness of the world would simply stop, if even for a few brief moments, and listen rather than run their pie hole. If only they would silence the next thought they have to overcome your verbal expression of what is in your heart and on your mind…if only they would resist the urge to make you and the world as they think it should be, better, and just listen.

If only…


Tonight’s musical offering:

We can think of no better piece of music where the composer, in this case, Mozart, was listening to the inner, most personal cravings of our prayers to God, and with his singular genius, transcribed our longings to music.

Mozart – “Ave Verum Corpus” ~ Leonard Bernstein

Photo credit (front page):




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