Ernest Hemingway recommended listening … and in that spirit I ‘listened’ this morning to a man in his fifties on the phone, while sitting in a cafe:
“She’s really hard to work with … you know … she’s in her twenties, living a rock star life … but soon she’ll hit thirty-five and burn out.”
But the thing about listening, I’ve noticed, is that there are so many ways to parse and focus. First, I heard the man’s prophesy of the girls decline. Then I ran the sentence again and heard the girl’s exuberance and youthfulness. Then, a third time, I listened to the echo and heard Life giggle at her naivety. So I sat back and played the sentence over and over, and I heard the man’s envy, his sorrow, his frustration and then his compassion, his fear and his morning of a lost age… all that in just one sentence. Then I open my eyes wide and tried to see through the veils of space, to peak at that girl, and I heard her laugh, write her dreams in her journal … in permanent ink, and I heard that ink complain and lament its disturbance … if only she left us warm in this fine tube, rather than oozing us out to express her whims! Then I heard the paper sigh at yet another illusion of an eternal life and greet the scribbled ink. I didn’t hear, but I saw the paper and ink nod to each other in a gesture I think meant, “Yes, it’s a young girl … who else would press so hard?”
I listened once, but I heard it over and over again … and I wish it would stop.