Listening

My Mom loves Oprah.

Not simply love in the “I love chicken marsala” sort of way, but more like the “I adore her to the extent that everything she says is taken as gospel and I want to BE her” variety. I swear, if Oprah said that jumping off of a bridge into a pit of Coral Snakes would be good for the soul (or any other of the gobbledygook buzz words for therapeutic remedies), Sue Sabala would be the first one up on that bridge, sporting bells and all.

Anyhoo, I had just recently cured my Mom of the annoying little habit of calling me midday when I was at work, asking if I was “watching Oprah” (which, since I’ve yet to be informed of any benefit including tv’s for in-office Oprah-viewing, was always answered with a sighing ‘this again?’ sort of no) when, alas and alack, my work hours changed and I was actually home in time to watch The Show (capitalized to maintain its sanctitude), if I wanted to, that is. My Mom, a member of the DoDoo’s (Dangerously Obsessed Disciples Of Oprah — my moniker for all things related to the one-word megabrand) could now justifiably SUGGEST (in a way that only Moms can) that I watch the show.

“Dr. Phil is on, Aubrey, and you MUST buy Gary Zukov’s new book. It’s the Heart of the Seat of the Pants, and it’s riddled with wisdom.”

“Aub, turn on Oprah. It’s about women who hate men who love women who hate men who love women. I think it’s perfect for you!”

You get my drift — topics aplenty of things that I would somehow find to be fitting in some aspect of my life and thus both disturbing and annoying. I can only do so much, here…

But despite the eye-rollingness, the acquiesence that I would have to sacrifice my much-needed daily nap extraordinaire for a DoDoo invitation a la SusieSab, I have been known to watch. Yeah yeah, get over it. Every now and again, something hits home.

Like today. In my 7+ hour drive back from North Carolina, I had ample opportunity to do some thinking. Luckily, I had a lot to think about. From the hustle and bustle of the weekend just ending, I encountered a little of this and that. Without going into details, I was surprised, offended, charmed, shocked, comforted, amazed, enthralled, and both taken aback and finding that my expectations were fulfilled. It’s the juxtaposition of elements that makes our lives so full, and mine, my friends, poureth over.

But back to Oprah. On one of these shows, either one I saw or one in which the transcript was relayed quasi-verbatim from my sweet Mom, one of her guests said that we need to listen to the people in our lives as they tell us who they are. They tell us in both words and actions, and it’s when we don’t listen — whether intentionally or unintentionally — that conflicts often arise. You know that little voice in the back of your head? The one that we try to push away, thinking that we know better? Yes, that’s the very one that we should actually take the time to listen to, and then take the time to wonder why we’re trying to ignore it. While the success rate for veracity is probably batting .500, I’d probably err on the side of caution and at least address the very issue(s) that you’re trying to push away. And hey, if you’re wrong, all the better.

The subtle clues in life, yes, those are often missed. It happens to everyone. Yet listening — something we all think we’re inherently capable of — is something that takes work. It takes practice. It takes just one too many instances of disillusionment, of displacement, of wondering why things aren’t the way they would be if our life fit into a 30-minute sitcom package o’ perfection. Why, when all is said and done, we know that Ross & Rachel WILL be together at the end of Friends but heck, who knows who our next date will be with. It’s this very frustration that we encounter in our quarterlife crises that could be mitigated if only we knew that when all was said and done, we’d get our Ross or our Rachel and our perfect baby Emma and the credits would roll and Joey would crack a joke and all would be right in our technicolor existances.

Yet, as we all know, it doesn’t work that way. We get the unexpected. We get the pain. We go through those times when all you want to do is climb out of your skin and take a vacation from your own life, when it all seems a bit overwhelming and the thought of running away from yourself is startlingly appealing. Our tools of preparation, of reconciliation, are few, but as we wade through the whirlpool of emotions that en masse create our lives, we can at least do one thing.

We can listen. We can begin to take our own advice. We can start listening to that little voice, at least for a second, before we dismiss it with a laugh. And most of all, we can listen to others, as they do, whether good or bad, tell us who they are.

-aubs

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