Sunday, August 15, 2010

Talkers and Listeners

When I lived in Bogota, Colombia, I went to a cocktail party with my ex-husband and I was introduced to a man to whom I asked a few questions.  He talked and I listened.  I listened for maybe half an hour and then moved on.  He told my ex-husband that I was such a charming person.  I could not tell why, I had barely talked to him.  I then discovered the great power of listening.

Life is full of talkers and listeners.  People who start to tell you stories as soon as they have you on the phone and do not stop until you hang up. They are not terribly interested in you but inside of them they enjoy the fact that you are a valuable deposit for their words.  They tell you interesting stories at times and sorry ones at others.

Some of us have developed the art of listening.  It is like opening the vast territory of an empty space ready to be filled by others.  But there is always a part of us that steps inside the talker's story and silently agrees or disagrees.  A sort of inner balance that puts the talker in a place of evaluation.  I listen to you and I can criticize at will with a silent question or agree with an empathetic laugh.

Of course, the ideal would be a talker and good listener at the same time.  I have such friends and the exchange is so fair and fulfilling.  You feel that your words are going to a place of receptivity and you let yourself become like a sponge absorbing the others sentences.

My life is filled with people who are interested and people who are interesting.  I have quite a few friends out of state and we e-mail each other.  Their letters are about their life and what they do or are going through, but also with questions about me and what has happened in my latest days.

I have also in my life the people who are the ultimate talkers.  They are interesting but stop there.  They do not ask me about me or about my work, my latest trip, or what I think about such a subject.  For them I am the perfect receptacle.  The one who puts my head in one of my hands and tilts it in a nice way.  I listen.

I wonder where you fit in this aspect of living?  Who do you talk to?  Who listens to you with great patience and interest?

I think that our days are filled with the need for both telling and listening.  Sometimes we need to be heard like a too full cup that life has filled with sorrow.  At times it is nice to simply talk and tell the stories of the past or the last happening that made us laugh.

And we need others in our circle!  We need good friends to make our days livable and fun and to have a dear companion to tell of our latest adventures or sadness.

The song "Tell me more, tell me more," from the movie "Grease" keeps us from being isolated in our cave.  Being able to tell is opening ourselves to a catharsis, a much needed outflow that keeps us sane.  Just as listening sometimes fills our cup with the pleasure of truly hearing another soul.

So no matter where you stand on the issue, I hope that your friends are ready to talk or to listen.  Life has enough room for both.

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre
Editing by Barry Kaplan

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Trip to Primeval Earth

Did you ever take a trip to see between towns hours of some amazing landscapes looking so infinite and devoid of any appearances of man?  Just the primeval earth in its beauty and desolation, its inviting curves and its light and solitude. This is what our trip to Sheridan Wyoming looked like. It lies just south of the border from Montana almost at the end of the state.  A long journey from Colorado Springs but with great surprises as we reached the town itself.

One of our young family members, Jordan, was singing in a cute, intimate, packed theater. His voice was so great and his female counterpart also sang with a full voice and they both filled the theater with their songs. We enjoyed the performance, then went to Jordan's parent's house with Suzanne, a writer, and her husband Julio, a master creator of houses and apartments.  We also enjoyed their unforgettable, so much fun younger children, Antonio and Enrique.

We had to do a show there in Sheridan and all the canopies turned out to be beautifully set on a long grass field in front of the college, shaded in parts by old Blue Spruce pine trees.  Good artists and good entertainment but very few people and therefore less sales than we expected.  The real pleasure of our stay was being in the Quintana's huge home with the magnificent view from their windows over the golden grassy hills and the Big Horn mountains all bluish in the background with a running small brook of water in between.  Deer would come to drink and we were lucky to see a big owl that had perched on a tree nearby.

The constantly changing light from morning to night kept us mesmerized and constantly looking out when we weren't talking or playing with the kids.

The house itself is a fabulous creation of our host Julio, beautiful and vast and with every modern commodity and a huge panel of wires and pipes that I did not understand, but that made the house a fantastic, smart, computerized ten thousand square foot accomplishment for which Julio and Suzanna were proud.  The house is in the country but very close to town, and there is a room for everything, even a full size ballroom with 25 foot ceilings whose beauty fits the dancing family that they all are.

Julio created great meals rivaled by his wife's and we ate in the morning and afternoon on their deck facing the best view.  It was a great way to spend a few days and we were received like royalty in a special bedroom that at night shone with the light of so many stars as I had only seen once before in Monument Valley in Arizona. Wine tasting in late afternoon with all of them and Len, Suzanne's father, was a joyful experience.

On the trip back we took a side loop that reached Cheyenne at the end.  At a town called Torrington, we found a fantastic rock shop with a great variety of cabochons and I promptly bought some to include in my jewelry.  It was a lovely ride with rain some sun shining at times through the clouds; along with horses drinking at a brook that my husband photographed.

We came home exhausted but happy with the memories of time so well spent and with people we love.

Read Suzanna Quintana's Book and Blog, "Why my Kids Do Not Get Fat," a very entertaining, well written and well researched book about children current epidemic of obesity across the nation.

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre;
photos and editing by Barry Kaplan
(Click on pictures to make them bigger)