As is my habit, I was listening to music from my i-pod this morning while I was doing my weekly yard work of mowing, edging and trimming. I had selected a group of songs by John Denver (his birth name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.). I can remember seeing him in concert during the 70’s when he was at his peak as a performer. I liked his music then, and I still do.
Incidentally, I just discovered during my research that he attended Texas Tech at the same time I was there. He was just a year younger than I. Of course, I didn’t know him. He was in the engineering department, and I don’t even know where that was. Nor was he anywhere close to being famous in 1962.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I was listening to songs such as “Grandma’s Feather Bed” which is a nostalgic song about visiting relatives and sleeping in the giant feather bed that used the down from “forty-‘leven geese” and a “whole bolt of cloth for to tick.”
Then there was “Rocky Mountain High” which was inspired by the Perseid meteor shower, as observed from his home in Aspen, Colorado. (When he changed his name, he actually borrowed the name of the Colorado city by the same name.)
But the song that rang my blog post bell was “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” written in 1971. The lyrics talk about reflection on life past, present, and future. The chorus talks about sitting around the fire at the end of the day with his wife and some friends, where they “talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in. How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care. How long it’s been since yesterday, and what about tomorrow. And what about our dreams and all the memories we share.”
We don’t do that very often, do we? We text and tweet and e-mail, using half words and symbols instead of real words. No wonder we have spelling problems. Most kids, and some adults, don’t know the difference between your and you’re, because they use “ur” for both. We may even Skype, but sitting down with a friend or family member just to talk about stuff, seems to be a thing of the past. I’m not sure the younger generation has ever experienced the joy of real, face-to-face communication.
We have lost the skill of listening, because electronic communication doesn’t require any listening, and without listening, there is no communication. One of my favorite quotes about communication comes from George Bernard Shaw. He said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Have you gone into a store lately where a young person is behind the counter, requested a certain list of items, only to have it repeated back to you totally wrong? Frustrating, isn’t it? They don’t know how to listen.
Luckily for me, Regina and I do have actual conversations. I obviously need to work harder on my listening skills, but practice is important. Road trips are especially fun for us, not only because we get to have a Starbucks along the way, but also because we spend a lot of time talking about stuff. If you haven’t tried it lately, I highly recommend it.