This may be a "DUH!" statement on par with "The Internet is really popular."
But in recent reflections, I have been slapped afresh by this realization:
Listening is a lost art.
Never mind that our media-saturated culture moves so swiftly that we may have lost the necessary attention span.
Never mind that much of our communication is now accomplished electronically.
I often hear folks refer to some sort of mythical halcyon days when everything was simpler, transactions were deeply personal, and the proverbial red tape of modern interactions was virtually nonexistent.
But I wonder if maybe listening has always been a difficult task - regardless of cultural conditions - simply because of our essence.
Perhaps it's always been a perpetually lost art.
In order to truly listen, we must surrender our selfishness.
We must relinquish our personal agendas, empty ourselves of self-absorption.
We must render our minds completely porous for another person's thoughts and feelings to enter without obstruction.
I have always enjoyed listening, and have been told that I am adept at it, but I'm certain that I struggle with it as much as everybody else does.
Very rarely have I been able to achieve that elusive peaceful mindset wherein my brain is entirely focused on the other person.
Like everybody else, I often abide the words of others only as long as I can stand to be silent, my own words crashing against the gates like racehorses.
Artful listening requires profound patience.
Patience may be the rarest of virtues.