This past weekend I was delighted to speak at HeartCamp, South Florida, an unconference devoted to examining all matters of the heart. My speech, How to Live a Deliberate Life, went beautifully and will become an ebook this spring or summer. I will keep you updated, of course.
Besides being a wonderful opportunity to share my insights, HeartCamp was an incredible occasion for me to practice the art of listening. After all, that is my single resolution for 2012: to become a better listener. I heard people talk about overcoming terrible accidents, diseases and setbacks. I heard people share their struggles and triumphs in figuring out the best way to live. I heard people filling the room with their enthusiasm and inspiration, hoping it would reach others.
Most of all, I listened to how beautiful it is to be a human being.
We all bumble through our lives, though some people appear to be better poised than others. Underneath every persona there is a person trying and learning to live life well. Perhaps it was the casual unconference atmosphere, or perhaps it was a stellar collection of speakers, but I was touched by how open, vulnerable and honest most speakers were. It was breathtaking.
Speaking in front of a group is not for everyone, but I wish it was. I wish every human being could have a chance to tell a story about their life and have others listen. Even an inelegant speaker has something important to share. The act of listening, of sitting in silence with reverence to the ideas of another, is an exercise in respect. The giving and receiving of that respect is something all human beings should experience from both perspectives.
I was struck, from the very first speech of the day with how hard we all try. It is easy to see our fellow human beings in categories: the few we cherish, the others we like and the rest who get in our way. But each individual life is deeply precious and equally valuable. In our culture the idea of showing respect to everyone, not just our beloveds and kindred spirits, has fallen by the wayside, and that is a shame.
Truly, a shame.
We have so much to learn from one another.
I was delighted to speak at HeartCamp, but I was honored to listen.