As a Journalism major at Howard University, I loved hearing, getting and reporting the story. When my path turned to advertising and copyrighting, that was okay too because it still evolved around story, and to get story – well, I had to listen – and when I listened, I learned.
I invite you to send a shout out on topics you want to learn and listening circles may be created around the idea.
Listening circles are communities of sharing that are created around a topic, cause, event or whatever one can imagine. I love listening circles because I get to learn so much from so many.
So, with this first “Listened & Learned” post, I decided to share an early moment of learning to and from listening. Every summer when I was a child, my parents would send me to South Carolina from Washington DC to be with my family in the South. Now, I was a city girl so I didn’t like it much, but since my dad and mom where from Edgefield SC, I had no choice.
I would start off with my father’s family and would quickly be shipped to my mother’s family. They didn’t really live that far away from each other, but their mentalities were miles apart.
My father’s folks were very verbal in their judgment of who I was and who they thought our family had gone to D.C. to be. Basically, they thought I was a bit uppity and would take every chance they could to make me do the same type of labor that my cousins did.
That would have been okay except I really didn’t know anything about living on a farm! Feeding chickens, picking vegetables and slopping pigs were not my cup of tea. No disrespect to them but I hated it. Now on the real, I was used to picking vegetables because my mother had a garden in the city. But the animal stuff – that was out of my league. So when I complained about the chores, I got to hear from them how I thought I was better than everyone else.
I listened and I learned that people would put their thoughts about themselves on you if you allowed it. I didn’t think I was better than them, but they must have believed they were lesser than me. However, that wasn’t my problem – it was theirs — so I asked to go stay with my maternal grandparents who would accept me for me..
In fact, both my grandfather’s would say, “Keep that girl from that hog trough before she falls in and gets herself dead! She don’t know nothing about no hogs.” And both my grandfather’s were correct — I had no idea how to be a farmer. What I was good at was listening to their stories and gathering them all in.
When I was at my maternal grandparents, I would sit on the porch with them and take in every drop of every story they shared — and as I listened, I learned. I learned about life, love, history, war, peace, animals and about all sorts of other things, people and places. In the comfort of this space of listening, I also learned to be me.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t always be in that space and I would forget that lesson again and again. But as time would pass, the words I heard while at the feet of my grandma as she sat in an old wooden rocker, under a brilliant South Carolina moon, would linger in my spirit and eventually surface to remind me of what I listened and learned, “You never forget where you come from cause we’re your tree and even when you take wings and fly, this tree is firmly rooted for you.”
Wow! Thanks Grandma for giving me grounded roots and wings to fly. I learned no matter where I go, I’ve got a foundation to return to.
Now, share a bit of what you learned from this story below.