ten minutes listening

I sit down to think about a blog topic. I sit with the intention of listening inwardly, but instead I begin listening to everything around me.

Birds sing. A car swooshes by, and then another. I hear a plane pass overhead. A lawnmower revs up and starts humming. Is it the next-door neighbor? Two or three houses away? I can’t tell.

I watch a cyclist pass by, and because I can see him, I notice the faintest trill of the wheels. My husband David is relaxing with a video game two rooms away, and when he’s into it I can hear his fingers pressing the buttons.

Then there’s this great spacious pause – perhaps 10 seconds, which feels like an eternity – where everything goes quiet. The cars cease. The fingers in the living room are still. The birds seem to be listening, too.

And then a car goes by, and we all stop holding our breath. One bird resumes her song, and then a second.

The sounds invite my attention outward. I’m pulled from my habitual stream of thought and into the realm of simple existence. The birds. The cars. The lawnmower. No need to analyze or judge. These things are.

I’d recommend the peace that comes from this practice. Sit for a while, stare out the window (or close your eyes), and listen. More than anything else, I am struck by the fact that every sound comes to an end. Whatever the sound landscape seems to be right now, it’s already changing. Listening isn’t a way to grab hold of the present moment. Listening is a way of (at least temporarily) becoming an open vessel that the moments pass through.

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