Sending listening quotes to a client this morning, I found this one from my files. I remember how much I love it, and how it expresses that important sense of listening with all of you, with patience and love and the wisdom of the world. Listening like a cow.
LISTEN LIKE A COW
“Pay attention…Just be there. Don’t be thinking about a solution, or how you should fix it. Just listen hard and try to be present. It’s very bad business to invite heartfelt speech and then not listen…What I’m trying to construct here is a theory of attention that depends little on therapeutic skills and formal training: listening like a cow. Those of you who grew up in the country know that cows are good listeners…We don’t need fixing, most of us, as much as we need a warm space and a good cow. Cows cock their big brown eyes at you and twitch their ears when you talk. This is a great antidote to the critical listening that goes on in academia, where we listen for the mistake, the flaw in the argument. Cows, by contrast, manage at least the appearance of deep, openhearted attention.”
-Mary Rose O’Reilley, Radical Presence: Teaching As Contemplative Practice (1998)