Two Ears, One Mouth

Most of us know that we become good listeners by conscious practice. Listening is sacred, and curiosity about others is the most essential tool we have for learning and discovery. “We were born with two ears and one mouth for a reason,” an older journalist said to me the year I graduated college. His words stayed with me. But over the years I’ve noticed that sometimes, this practice, once honed well, has a bit of an unfortunate shadow, particularly in social settings.

If you are like me and simply love being around other people, there is a difficult pattern that we must be aware of. The value of active, open space-holding when it comes to others’ stories and narratives affords the potential for deep connection and authentic friendship, while also appearing to invite the most unwanted deluge of the “wrong” people’s frantic clamor for emotional profit. Those who practice active listening can often find themselves in situations with people who take advantage by way of sometimes-daily, non-reciprocal monologue, using the would-be conversational space as an ever-present repository for their own protracted verbalized processing without the thought of even once asking how the other person is doing. Although this is often unintentional on the part of the story-teller, it is, without a doubt, a genre of social monopoly.

We’ve all been there…on one side of that or the other. But here’s the obvious, but often forgotten truth: just because someone is a good listener does not make him or her an open receptacle for other people’s selfish monologuing. Though almost no conversational monologuing is ever done in malice–on the contrary, it’s often obliviousness or an extension of other antisocial behavior–it’s a woefully selfish habit. If this habit is one of yours, maybe try inserting this phrase–“And how are you?”–and then mustering some curiosity about the other person’s response. Ask a follow up question. Practice. Repeat. Yes, this is how we connect.

Of course, there are important exceptions to the usual antisocial nature of conversational monologuing that are actually quite appropriate. By trade, I am a journalist who interviews people for a living. In these settings, it’s natural and necessary that the person I’m speaking to express a lot more than I do for the duration of that conversation. But what brings me to this subject matter today is this dynamic showing up pretty often in my social and personal life as well.

If you are an open-hearted individual who continuously finds yourself on the receiving end of these monologueing circumstances, this is of course where the conversation about the limited nature of time and the essential need to practice boundaries arises. Removing yourself can still be respectful; “Thank you for sharing that with me,” or something to that effect will hopefully do.

Remember, kindness is gold, but your time is your life. Good Luck!

 

Julia Daye

 

 

Blue Notes on Le Garonne


The still, mournful quietude
of a rainy winters day in Bordeaux

makes way for the loneliest Friday night
I can remember.

The Basilica, regal and silent, towers alongside
stone chimneys over the bridge Pont de Pierre

that crosses Le Garonne.
Light glimmers on the stone roues glazed with fresh rain,

all of it gently haunted by something I cannot place.

I make a call to New Mexico, where its sunny
and a different kind of melancholy.

The girl on the other end of the phone
wants to escape too.

I think of Paris and all its divine distraction.

A blonde guru reminds me that longing is the most fertile
ground for creativity.

He watches my eyes move with thoughts.
Doucement, he whispers, his accent bulky and American like mine.

 

 

Julia Daye

Waking in Oakley: December 5th, 2017

Woke up today in Oakley, Kansas,
a place I didn’t necessarily mean to land, but
found myself anyhow.

Leaving home means finding
home in this body or perishing.

So, I do the things I know as
if they’re holy ritual. Sprints down
the road before departure time,

a hot shower, look for my favorite leggings,
a small breakfast of fruit from my pack, jot down a poem.

Studying the sun, it looks different here
than it does at home.

When I was a child, I feared that if I moved too fast,
God would lose me.
I’m over here, I would say–

I still say
sometimes.

RESOLVING JOY


This fear is a fear of losing
the velocity I’ve hoped
is myself,

of sacrificing a wild and industrial motion
to an uncertain
abyss in peaceful rapture.

What is youth but fighting peace with every muscle?

Does progress exist without a continuous leaning forward?
And what of my curiosity who contests
all comfort as I sit quietly?

I will not succumb to stillness,
I will not succumb to stillness, it says.

But
when stillness visits,
I daresay there is a deliciousness

that I now
allow myself to inhabit
for whole minutes at a time

before re-dosing myself with urgency.

Dear one, imagine we knew not of our own mortality–
what if we, like so many other creatures,
had not even the faintest idea?

How would be this day,
this question;

how would I do this quietude
aside from the ancient, yet unproven, rumor
that I am to die?

Julia Daye

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In Thanks to Robert Levithan

His spiritual prowess and resonant vocabulary for navigating hardship did not come without a lifetime of heavy lifting. But sitting in Tuesday meetings at Friends in Deed, I revered Robert’s calm response to the grief of the hundreds of survivors that surrounded him. His unshakable heartful felicity, his enchanting ease of speech and soothing way of translating life seemed to offer many a lantern in the darkness, a roadmap through the void.

He was riveting and undeniably handsome. At 60 years old and living openly with fatal illness, it was strangely as if the circumstances of illness and aging had over time, in fact, harvested his being into a strapping, embodied, powerfully masculine champion. He dressed in white as a kind of signature and translated peace with a frequent pearly smile.

My 2012 self wanted to be like him, or to at least cultivate a route of similar vast effect. To be able to break through the dark vortex of human mental agony with a single sentence that delivered a simple and essential flip of perspective was, to me, a fascinating form of wizardry. He was one of the first to influence my eventual move to New Mexico, where he had spent significant time during a period of dire healing in his 20’s, and where he later returned to attend a school in Santa Fe called Southwestern College, an institution to which I applied as well after learning that’s where he went.

When a public person dies, sometimes it seems as if the social world launches into a series of sadness contests, especially with the modern presence of social media. Today, after learning of his death, I don’t feel sad; honestly, I barely knew Robert. But news of his passing brings me to reflect on how he was for me, as with so many others, a true road angel and ambassador of light.

— Julia Daye

Important Message to the World’s Nice Guys

I want to write a message to all the Nice Guys out there. Being a nice, kind, good-hearted, humanitarian, and an overall well-intentioned person does not safeguard you from inadvertent human ignorance and imperfect decision-making. Every man who has ever engaged in abusive behavior towards me (and sadly, there are several) was not only was a self-proclaimed “Nice Guy”, but was also known as such by many (if not all) of his peers.

I am noticing the dangers of blind identification with a positive characteristic, a conviction that leads many people’s sensibilities to be like Teflon for information to the contrary or any input at all that points out behaviors outside of that which they’ve identified themselves.

Getting healthily called-out for bad behavior will render such a person amidst blame of everyone else in the situation. I’ve seen this happen. This is how abuse begins.

Steadfast identification with the term “Nice Guy” does an immense disservice to the one doing the identifying as well, as it robs his imagination from viewing a wider spectrum and the innate, dynamic nature of human personality.

Sometimes good people do bad things, sometimes good people say disrespectful things, sometimes good people act disrespectfully or clumsily or even violently and should be held accountable just like everyone else. This may be disappointing news, but being a “good person” does not exempt you from error or accountability.

No one is perfect, but everyone is responsible for themselves.

 

Julia Daye

Making Peace


I have moved into the lyrical portion of this
particular lifedance wave—
emptying, grieving, negotiating gravity
with my feet and heart—

not too heavy, not too light—
toward a stillness for which
I have begged the divine
for some time.

I want peace, I want peace, I want peace, I say.

Today I ask for peace. So,
slowly I piece it together—
saying goodbye to all that I hold
that is not treaty,

I offer others what I hope she looks like;
what I have
combined in humble circles.

Julia Daye

Joan of Tree Bark


I am tired of fighting;
the warrior in me is no longer cozy.

All these years, I raged
against fools, bellowed
creed in the street—

fed the fires,
locked down, suited up,

lead the girls into battle
by the skin of our feet.

They know my name.
Wait….is it…Athena
or Don Quixote?

What is it we are fighting for?
These days, my heart aches
with questions.

I am tired of looking for
walls to break down.
I am tired of fighting.

The warrior in me is
no longer cozy.

The child in my heart
sits gaunt and lonely.

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Julia Daye

This Revolution in Facts


Fact: The true revolution in this society lies in the micro, not the microphone. What a person does when no one is looking, in the privacy of his home or alone with his partner, is the realest testament of his awareness, intention, and goodness.

Fact: A person who considers himself a warrior for social and political progress but who does not respect the ones closest to him is not the heart-centered advocate he presents himself to be.

Fact: Revolution lies in the holiness of your hands far more than the wisdom of your words. Beliefs are just air, actions create new worlds.

Fact: Revolution is a practice, not an event; an ongoing, conscious rehearsal of embodiment in every waking moment of that which you wish to see in the world around you.

Fact: Revolution is a personal process first that hopes to join the collective in the form of service once solidified in the individual soul.

Fact: Energy flows where attention goes. The practice of revolution includes unplugging all of one’s own energy from the things that harm or impede our society. This means working for causes, not against them.

 

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