Just yesterday, though it wasn’t the first time, a parent stopped me on my way out of the school to ask how I was doing. Had it been the first time, I may have stopped and stayed there to give her a more sincere answer. I probably wouldn’t have replied with only a curt “okay,” and I probably wouldn’t have used a whimpering emphasis—oh pity me, please—in the tone to match my much undisclosed pathetic frustration from all the rejections that week. Had it been the first time, I probably would have been more attentive when she replied with a calm wisdom, as if worldly recognized, “well, maybe the world is saying something and just saying it louder.” At the time, it seemed like the sort of when there is no sincere answer, really. But it is also the answer. It is the answer to when we are seeking counsel; it is the answer to when someone else doesn’t know where we are going or what we are needing; it is the answer to when someone doesn’t know themselves. In which case, the answer stuck with me for some time.
I remember some time ago hearing that in the Dine (Navajo) culture, and so ignorant I am as to where I’ve heard this or even if it’s a valid—forgive me of my appropriation—that there is a common understanding that if you did not hear something it was not meant to be heard. So oftentimes, when I lived in western New Mexico, when I would blurt out, “what?” or “can you repeat that?” I didn’t always receive a reply. I thought it was just a form of ignoring me, which I would also accept if that were true, too. But no one ever explained to me the significance of when we do hear something. Of course, I don’t only mean that causal acknowledgement of something said but that almost prophetic message behind even what may simply be a casual statement.
Anyways, I’ll spare you much of the details, but know that for just a moment I took the pitfalls of the world personal last week. The pitfalls that I, as if lost or wandering in the long hallways of a confusing mansion, continued to find myself in. Now tell me, what kind of listening is that? No, it wasn’t uttered under someone’s breath or mentioned in passing but it is an idea that for some reason the world asked of me to listen to; it asked of me my attention.
The world has been telling me in its frank and loving way that what I am choosing over and over again is not best fit. This is not to say, I’m making the wrong choice, no, but it is to say that whatever choice I’m making does not fully honor and reflect what I want. Maybe it’s out of some cowardice, some procrastination, or maybe some fear of actually putting the work in to upholding the very life I want. For whatever reason, maybe the world only knows I will listen when I hear the sound of closing doors. Not to say you’re unwelcome here, not to say, “we’re not interested,” but to say, in the world’s frank and loving way, “Some days I hold my breath and hope you don’t show up here. Look, it’s not because I don’t want you here, it’s because I love you and I know you deserve something better.”