One of the challenges of listening is to hear what one is hearing. By which I mean to ask “Why do I hear those words in that particular way?” As a young dragon I was taught about listening by those who had been doing it for many centuries. they would tell me a story and ask me to tell them what I thought about it. Did it make me happy? Sad? Angry? At first I was allowed to say simple things like “That’s a sad story” because it was about something sad. As I grew older I was expected to hear the stories in the stories. So, if the princess as rescued from her tower, would she necessarily just be happy? At first I snorted loudly at this idea. “Of course she’d be happy. She’s just been rescued. Why wouldn’t she be happy?”Then my teacher would tell me to go away until I had learned to think properly. It took me a very long time to understand what I was being asked to think about. I only understood what he meant during my coming of age ceremony. (All dragons who want to become listeners are sent on a long journey to find a particular item that has been hidden for many centuries. This item then becomes our icon. We treasure it partly for its own sake but because it reminds us of the value of listening and hearing clearly.)
The point of this history is to say that as dragon listener, I have learned to hear what I say. So, I had a visitor recently who has come before on many occasions. I know their stories and will link them together for my guest.This often means making connections that had not before been apparent but which present themselves during our conversations. I recently made one of these links and surprised myself by what I said. “Did I say that out loud?” is a phrase I’ve heard used. I gather it conveys embarrassment, mock surprise, and similar feelings. I like that phrase. It sums up my conversation with this visitor. They left deep in thought. I stayed also lost in thought. We were both taken aback by what I said. When we next meet there will be a good deal of hearing the story in the story. I shall have to explain what prompted my comments. My visitor will talk about what they heard. Together we will create something new. Something that did not exist before we both shared our thoughts. It will be a challenging conversation. But a rich one. That is the joy of being able to listen well. It allows something new to born.