I silently listened to a conversation as a third party observer. One side was presenting new ideas and observations. In addition to the details themselves, you could feel the passionate curiosity in his voice. Even though I was not involved in the conversation and was not particularly curious about the subject, the details were interesting. I wanted to hear more.
The other person in the conversation was taking a very different approach. He was beyond disinterested. He appeared to not want to hear anything further. He response was direct, clear, and to the point.
“It does not matter. I hear but I do not care. The analysis and outcome is the same, regardless of what you have observed.”
The discussion turned towards a debate on the need to be open to what one party saw as the larger story. As I listened, I realized that it was highly unlikely that either side was listening to the other. For sure, the individual defending the decision was not willing to hear anything new that did not reinforce the predetermined outcome.
As the conversation fades and the individuals leave, I wonder how often I have played one or both of these roles. The challenge of hearing and dealing with more has been around for a long time. As I think back, fear and uncertainty were emotions that dominating my reactions in the moment. Additionally, there was often a resignation that even if I was willing to go through the insights that I was powerless to convince others.
I would like to suggest that looking at life with fresh eyes is a challenge you and I face daily. In many ways, it is an invitation and a window. Writers have left us with both; “Take a good look at God’s wonders – they’ll take your breath away.” (Psalm 66.5) It does not end there, however the first step remains with us. Our answer to the challenge will define our next steps. I hope I am open to the possibilities of more; each unique, often never repeated in the same way.