Listen: vb. “to hear something with thoughtful attention, give consideration”(Dictionary.com).
“You don’t buy anything for the apartment!” “Well, I pay the rent, so….” “You don’t listen to me!” “Foolish!” “Neither do you! You are hopeless!”
It was 7 am on a Saturday morning. Once again, an argument between Andy’s parents, Michael and Mandy, woke him up an hour before his alarm did. He shook his head and initially thought, “Here we go again.”
Yet after a few minutes, he asked himself, “Why is it hard for them to listen to each other?”
Then he thought, maybe it’s stubbornness; both his parents believed that their opinion was correct. If it was not stubbornness, then maybe arrogance; hence, Mandy calling Michael foolish for saying something stupid. If it was not arrogance, then either of them just did not focus enough on each other’s perspective and feelings.
What if those reactions stemmed from either of them not wanting to be vulnerable? If Michael listened to Mandy, his eardrum may have been rattled by the sheer tone of her voice. Her words could unsettle and/or shatter his perspective. At one point during the argument, she shouted insults and seemingly nonsensical statements at him. Andy pictured his father frozen in place by his mother’s insults and consumed by surprise and/or by shame. He thought, “Heck if I was in his position, I would freeze too.”
However, he gave his father the benefit of the doubt, picturing him standing tall and exuding strength in the midst of his mom’s tirade.
Andy expected his father to speak calmly and to express empathy for Mandy’s feelings. Unfortunately, he reacted rashly, saying that she “lacked understanding and was clueless”. Rather than shift the conversation to thoughtful discourse, he added fuel to the fiery argument.
After 10 minutes, they stopped arguing. Andy walked through the living room and saw his mother on the couch reading The Daily Bread pamphlet and his father sitting by the grey Dell desktop computer reading CNN. He sensed tension and anger in the air while walking to the kitchen.
As he poured some Quaker oats into a boiling pot of water, a quote by James Clear came to mind:
“A lack of willingness to listen is really like a lack of willingness to learn.” (Clear, 2020)
His inner voice added, “A lack of love and a lack of trust too.”