Five Days. Five Senses. In Thanksgiving for HEARING

It’s Day Two in our countdown to Thanksgiving, a holiday that would never had happened in Lincoln had not LISTENED to Sarah Josepha Hale and her idea that the nation needed a day of gratitude. The Irish have a saying, “The Good Lord gave us two ears and a mouth which means we are suppose to listen twice as much as we speak.”  Sadly, we don’t. Listening is far different from hearing. Listening implies putting aside preconceived ideas and being open to the meaning behind the words. It implies asking reflective questions. In my book, "Talk Ain’t Cheap, It’s Priceless" listening plays a crucial role in effective leadership, community building, and family tending. At the same time, in the past, I too often took for granted the simple sense of hearing itself. Imagine living in a world where you can see someone’s mouth move but can’t make sense of what is coming out. Or perhaps you “think” you heard correctly, but some of the words weren’t correct. That’s what was happening to me until my sweet husband quietly put an ad for hearing aids on my desk and suggested I might look into it. OK. I swatted him. I cried. This is a malady that has struck every male in my family for four generations. Not me.  Alas, perhaps because I shared the womb with my twin brother who has significant hearing loss, I apparently have also gotten that genetic marker. I do wear hearing aids. Not all the time, but enough to appreciate the nuances of a stage production, to answer questions from my audience, and to joining into conversations at gatherings of many people. You, dear reader, are probably one of those blessed souls who has perfect hearing. Hearing is what occurs in moments like this: I was sound asleep today when the alarm went off, a classical station that sends up everything from soothing concertos to percussive passage from an obscure composer. I never know what will start my day.  Our water fountain is timed to start flowing at 4am. While that might be calming, the hard rock music at the gym gets my body pumped for a stair climbing or lifting weights. In contrast, the ride home from the gym is blissfully silent. I am grateful for my ears. I am grateful for help that lets me hear more. I am grateful for the music I sing and the songs I dance too. And I am eternally grateful when someone says, “Thanks for listening to me today.” That ranks higher than water flow or the orchestra. Where today will you be grateful for hearing AND for listening.

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