I recently finished Momo, a fiction book by Michael Ende, about a little girl, her friends and time.. It was lovely to read, both since it was related to my degree project and it made me see my life in a different way.
“Momo was able to listen in such a way that stupid people suddenly had wise insights. And this came not from her saying something or asking questions that provokes wise answers, no, she simply sat there and listened with deep attention and empathy. When she looked at someone with her big, dark eyes as she listened, that person felt all at once thoughts rise up from deep within, thoughts which even their owner had never suspected of being in there.
She could listen in a way that confused and wavering people suddenly knew precisely what they wanted. Or so that shy ones suddenly felt free and brave. Unhappy and depressed ones would suddenly become confident and joyful. And when someone thought that his life was all amiss and insignificant, that he himself was merely one among millions, totally unimportant in replaceable like a broken dish, – when such a on went and told all this to little Momo, it happened that while he was still speaking he realized in some mysterious way clearly that he was mistaken: there was, in fact, no one quite like him among all other human beings; he was unique, and therefore in a special way important for the world. And all this came from the way Momo was able to listen.”
My first feeling was not amazement, nor joy as I read the lines. It was envy! (yes, I said it) I put the book aside and thought “oh I wish I had a gift like that”. That little wish stayed close to my heart as days went by and I started to try and just listen to people.. Picturing myself those with big, dark eyes of Momo, imagining that I have the gift, hoping I didn’t look completely ridiculous, fearing that people will take my silence as a bad sign and suppressing my urge to “fix things”, give advice, voice opinions, comfort the person in front of me.
It was hard at the beginning, I found myself not knowing what to do and I was afraid of the long pauses. But I hung on, and just smiled, giggled, tried to ask questions with my eyes, tried to show that I cared. And slow by slow I did not need to try.. I felt my heart expanding, I felt myself calm, one with that person, just “be”ing and not “do”ing. It was liberating! It was amazing! It was harmonizing… I felt like I did not just learn this but I “remember”ed.. And I realized how much struggle it actually brought when I tried to give advice, since it mostly ended up as me taking it personally if the person take the advice or not.
…the long silences: They stopped feeling long after a while.
…the person thinking that I was being silly: Didn’t happen yet (or no one said it out loud)
…the “why are you looking at me like that” question : Giggled and took eyes away to just bring them back with a full smile. The question was dissolved in the smile.
…not being able to “help” the person: I received a big “thanks for listening” anytime I did this and it felt like this helped both of us more than a race to voice out feelings/opinions.
I cherish the gift of listening and hope to always carry it close to my heart <3