Waiting

solitude.jpg
Photo at 2CRG

Solitude itself is a way of waiting for the inaudible and the invisible to make itself felt. And that is why solitude is never static and never hopeless

May Sarton

That’s why I felt an affinity with the lone man – looking out to a turbulent sea, perched on a rock, palms raised, quite still – who appeared to be at one with his surroundings.

Sometimes mental solitude suffices for me. But what May Sarton describes as ‘waiting for the inaudible and the invisible to make itself felt’ is every day as necessary to me as sleep and food and water – perhaps because, as departing Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said as he conceded referendum defeat, ‘non siamo dei robot’‘we are not robots.’

Doing business in silence

I don’t know a better way to lead than to listen. What is deep listening? It’s a way of hearing where our whole body and being are, in the moment, without controlling it, judging it, or changing anything. It’s letting whatever will happen, happen in the conversation without jumping in. There is no need to clarify anything until you’ve sat in silence and your client is empty of words. Most of the time your client will clarify what’s missing before you step in.

Amir Karkouti
Unconventional Wisdom: Stories
Beyond the Mind to Awaken the Heart

Poetry, of course, is jam-packed full of the kind of wisdom that is accessed by deep listening, past, present and future. I remember being enthralled by the thought that Louis MacNeice must have been one of life’s really great deep listeners. How else could he have begun his Mutations with

If there has been no spiritual change of kind
Within our species since Cro-Magnon Man
And none is looked for now while the millennia cool,
Yet each of us has known mutations in the mind
When the world jumped and what had been a plan
Dissolved and rivers gushed from what had seemed a pool …

It’s a deep-listening ear that makes connections between Cro-Magnon man and our contemporary surprises! MacNeice must have made time in his life for pause as well as for poise.

Whilst I am often prepared to give poetry time to ‘clarify what’s missing’ in my comprehension and (a measure of) understanding of it, I warmly recognise the truth, too, in Amir Karkouti’s unconventional wisdom that, in human encounters, ‘there is no need to clarify anything until you’ve sat in silence and your client [or acquaintance, colleague, dream, friend, love, nature, novel, partner, poem, prayer, wilderness experience etc] is empty of words. Most of the time your client will clarify what’s missing before you step in.’

What a marvellous and extraordinary truth it is that poetry’s careful placing of words can so often point us in the useful direction of contemplative stillness and receptive, reflective, silence.