"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was a chapter in an early draft of JOY: What My Heart Taught Me. I considered what I had written, wrote again, considered again, and in the end decided not to include it in the book. A cherished Christmas song, the title is also an important question for our time, so on the half-birthday of Christmas Eve, when the song is sung, it is timely to ask "Do You Hear What I Hear?".
We hear much in our daily lives - music, news, conversations, . . . - all of the earbud cords dangling about our heads are evidence that we are wired to hear a lot. I must admit that I'm not always a fan of what I hear when I'm "connected". When I drive my daughters, we're tuned into their radio stations which play what I affectionately refer to as "Top 14". If you're old enough to remember the pop music scene of 30 years ago, you'll recall "Top 40". Today there seem to be only 14 songs being played over and over and over again for two weeks before the next 14 begin . . . sigh. On the other hand, when I drive alone, I often listen to talk radio - there was a time when I listened to be informed, and often agreed with the hosts; however, I find the commentary has become less informative and more vehemently coercive to taking sides on issues, making the entire experience mind numbing. The same is often true of media in general. Conversation has a tendency to imitate what we hear, making it less true to our actual beliefs and feelings. I often feel like the Grinch in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" when he listens to the Whos in Whoville singing Christmas songs, and what he hears is banging drums of "Noise! Noise! Noise!"
Do you hear "Noise! Noise! Noise!" when you listen? If so, does it cloud your thinking and steal your ability to make sense of the world in which we live? It often does for me. Sometimes, what I hear being said causes me to temporarily be stopped in my tracks, wondering if I might not have a clear understanding of the issue at hand, that I may not be listening well.
I find that I must unplug and disconnect to allow my head to think clearly. Often that requires a literal unplugging from everything, and escaping to walk the beach I love, where I find solace listening to the silence and gentle sounds of nature. I must escape the "Noise! Noise! Noise!" and allow my heart's voice to be heard in order for my mind to process things with rational sense. Interesting, isn't it, that my heart must be heard in order for my head to be more rational? I believe the reason for this is that love and joy come from the heart, and for anything to make true sense, it must be considered with respect to love and joy. "Noise! Noise! Noise!" is born of jealousy, hate, lack of trust, revenge, etc., and therefore, results in ideas that do not move us forward, but rather drag us further toward those emotions. Unplugging from the noise and listening with an ear to hear love is the path we must all travel if we are to be joyful as individuals, as families, as communities, as nations and as the world.
Listen . . . Do You Hear What I Hear?
author of "JOY"