The value of quiet listening


Recently the Miles Franklin Award was granted to Indigenous writer and academic, Kim Scott for his novel That Deadman Dance. As a work of fiction, it is inspired by, and draws on the early history of the region known today as Albany, Western Australia, writes Clare Condon SGS in the Good Oil.

Scott explores the interaction between two different cultures – the Noongar people and the newly arrived Europeans. It is a novel with many layers of meaning; layers revealed as Scott “slides unapologetically across time and between cultures and ways of being, seeing and understanding”, to quote Miles Franklin Award judge, Morag Fraser.

I had just finished reading That Deadman Dance when I heard Kim Scott interviewed on ABC radio after he had accepted the award. At the end of the interview, he was asked whether at this particular time he had anything to say to our Australian politicians.

“I’d like to say listen more and not just to polling groups. Get yourself in a bit of silence sometimes and listen,” he responded. I was somewhat surprised at his answer, but it makes eminent sense.

It occurs to me that the point he is making about silence applies not only to our politicians but to each of us as well. I ask myself: What is the value of listening quietly? What is the value of finding the places and spaces for silence to reflect upon life and its movements?

Our Western culture is saturated by noise. It is difficult to escape from the drone of external noise, be it the traffic, helicopters and planes, machinery, radios, iPods, televisions or simply constant chatter. This external noise provides an ongoing background to our daily living experiences.

However, it is our internal noises of anxiety, stress, discomfort, agitation and worry that can actually be more penetrating and disturbing to our well-being and our sense of meaning. This internal static can come from an unreflective life, from being overwhelmed by what we perceive to be obstacles to our peace and happiness.

FULL STORY The value of quiet listening (Good Oil)

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