Being a writer of fictions and foolishness of all sorts, I express myself in words, probably too many for some people's liking. Over the years, I feel I've become a better writer by reading, experiencing as much of life as I can, reading, meeting other writers, and reading. I tend to absorb massive amounts of information and am, by nature, compelled to regurgitate it in what I hope is a creative, engaging manner.
By the same token, I feel I've become a better person by listening. Listening more than talking. This is hard for me because I have a lot of pent-up stuff to talk about. I like expressing myself. I like to communicate. Listening can be difficult because all that inner noise gets in the way. But I'm trying to become a better listener. Every opinion I have, every conviction, comes from listening, evaluating, and collating. I try to make decisions, not in a vacuum or echo chamber, but based on the best information I can absorb. Lately more than ever, I feel it has been a time to listen. To—at least occasionally—shut the fuck up and just listen. To voices that I ordinarily might not hear. That I might disagree with. That I might find offensive. That impart wisdom based on experiences I can never know.
Social media allows everyone to have their say. Unfortunately, now more than ever—likely because 2020 has dealt us more than a few serious boots to the head—it seems to me that way too many people are yammering when they should be listening. The signal to noise ratio is bad. Very bad. Blind, dogmatic BS, shared because it simply fits a convenient but mindless narrative. So, I'm going to ask, nicely, that some folks take a breather, suck it up, and just freaking listen. Me, I am not egotistical enough to think I have all the answers. A lot of times, I don't even have the right questions. But can you—will you—listen? You might learn something. I sure have, and I plan to continue.
Bear in mind, listening does not mean blindly accepting; far from it. It means critically examining and filtering. That is how we build convictions.
And that, in perhaps too many words, is what's happening upstairs today. Thank you for listening, and I shut up now.