Listening is an act of discovery. It completely has the power to transform our lives. In our acting, it is the principle that can take us to unexpected places of feeling and experience that can shock us, surprise us, make us fall in love, and express things we never thought were inside us.
Listening’s power in the moment is what makes our experiences as actors so exhilarating and also, at times, scary.
And obviously the rest of the world is catching on to this inherent gift possessed by each of us (actors have just been aware of it for a long, long time). Our ability to listen and tell stories from that place is part of our DNA as human beings.
This year, the TED Prize, a $1 million award given to the TED Talk that most inspires people to bring about positive change, was awarded to a talk that celebrates the art of listening.
Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, which has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded, has used the money to create an app to make it possible for people anywhere to digitally archive their interviews with another person contributing to the “collective wisdom of humanity.”
This is what the art of acting-and listening to story-throughout the ages was utilized for. The role of theater was to pass on stories to new generations to keep the knowledge and traditions of cultures alive in a community.
Storytelling was-and still is-living theater.
The simple act of listening to what someone is telling us is the most profound tool to carry on a memory of that person. Before technology, that is the only way people would honor the stories of those who came before them.
We don’t think of listening as a gift, but we all have the capacity to listen in a way to take someone in, being with them in an intimate and empowering capacity.
They are not only heard, but listening also makes them seen.
So the benefits of listening are infinite. To the person who feels they have no voice, being taken in and received through listening creates a space for them to feel and share. For the person who’s doing the listening, that act of reciprocity awakens us to new ideas, aha moments, inspiration, and connection.
So this listening thing is a win-win for everyone who participates.
So finally and completely, let listening open you-let it bust you open. Let it expand your heart to places you didn’t think were possible. Stop protecting yourself. Life isn’t about self-preservation. It’s about sharing and learning how to love, especially while we’re here and still can. Listening will do that for you, but you have to be willing to open not just the auditory segment, but the heart and mind as well.
As Isay says, “Listening creates grace and respect and beauty and appreciation. It is poetry.”
Listening makes each of us a poet, lover, artist, creator, avatar. Which is who we are anyway-but listening sure helps us to remember.