Dear Listeners,

“We are constantly drawn into our next phase of life, which is always beyond our current awareness,” so says Mark Nepo in his book titled Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. How does Nepo’s observation sit with you?

Did you pause to consider the question?

When I first read Nepo’s comment above it moved me the way poetry moves me – and then it struck me why poetry is so often overlooked in our culture. Speaking personally, for me to really consider whether Mark Nepo’s comment has any truth to it based on my own experience… I must slow down. 

Our culture does not encourage slowing down and it is hard to see if our culture encourages us to be considerate. As I sat here in consideration, I felt that twinge of doubt creep up – Avie, get to work! Write this letter! Did you ever get accused of daydreaming? A cultural judgement is implicit in my question. Accused.

Slowing down to consider Nepo’s comment opened up a wide vista of reflection and wonderment. Just few tidbits within that vista: I thought of how Marcia is modeling this for us – stepping down because she felt called forth into the unknown; I recalled moments of being called forth in dramatic ways, including the adventurous moment I left everything behind and moved to AK; I wondered about the origin of the word ‘consider’; I questioned… is it really constant, this “being drawn into the next phase?” 

At the LP it has been our experience that listening changes us. I wonder, if there is any truth to Nepo’s understanding, might the willingness to slow down – which is integral to the practice of listening – be part of how it is that listening impacts (and changes?) the listener as well as the guest? 

While it might be easy to see the more dramatic moments when we are drawn into the next phase of our lives, when I consider the practice of listening I am beginning to trust that Nepo is onto something when he says that this movement is constant and beyond our current awareness. Though the changes any of us have experienced and attributed to our practice of listening may not be dramatic or even easily defined, it strikes me that when we listen we are quite open to that which is beyond our current awareness. To deeply listen, being open to the unknown is our default orientation.

This essay is being drawn forth in the moment, perhaps an example of how Nepo might just be onto something. And so to carry on, the etymology of ‘consider’ (during my daydreaming, otherwise called writing, I looked it up) is from the Latin considerare : “to observe the stars.” 

What a wonderful surprise! Maybe you already knew that, but I didn’t.

What does observing the stars draw forth from you?

Seeing the majesty of a star-filled night sky can bring awe that stills and quiets the soul. What about a shooting star? Doesn’t awe quiet down the habit of thinking and slow us down pretty much immediately? And then… there is Carl Sagan’s understanding that, “We’re made of star-stuff.”

I am touched by this particular unfoldment. It feels resonate, makes poetic and perfect sense. When we sit with another and listen… we are quieted into a depth of consideration for the other, the star-stuff being sitting before us. Maybe slowing down to listen draws us forth and changes us continually, or maybe the contactfulness of really being with another person is what draws us forth…

Am I constantly drawn into some mysterious next phase of life? What is beyond my current awareness? Do I welcome it? For me to consider these things, I can’t help but notice how this contemplation feels a lot like compassionate and nonjudgmental listening.

in awe and gratitude, thank you for practicing listening and letting yourselves be drawn forth, continually,