I walk into a room full of people, and the first thing I notice is the noise.  Everyone is talking.  All at once.  Some are quite animated, expressing themselves with gestures, volume rising and falling with the ebb and flow of the tales they’re telling.  Others are barely whispering, mumbling in the shadows to themselves.  But everyone is talking.  All at once…

My first thought is that this must be a party of some sort, so I eagerly look around, trying to determine the reason we are gathered.  But nothing obvious appears to me.  There are no banners announcing an event, no gift or cake table where I might find a clue, no one person who appears to be at the center of the gathering.  In fact, the more closely I observe the people in the room, the more chaotic the group becomes…

I start to listen in on the conversations happening closest to me by the door.  Words.  Lots and lots of words.  But no actual conversations are occurring.  Nor is there any focus or common thread really, though some seem to be speaking of similar things…  I venture farther into the room, still listening to the voices around me, yet wherever I go, I find the same dissonance…

Slowly it begins to dawn on me, what I am witnessing, and this is no party after all.  Because while it’s true that everyone is talking, all at once, it’s also true that no one is listening.  And every single one of these people is only talking to (and for) themselves…

“Interesting…,” I think to myself.  “And what is to be gained from this exercise, I wonder?”

Intrigued, I continue to wander slowly around the room, listening to people speak…  Some are quite entertaining, so I stop to listen for a while.  I try making eye contact to show them I am there, eager to hear what they have to say.  But they do not acknowledge me.  So caught up in the magic of their own words, they do not even notice, it seems, that there are others in the room.  So I wander off, eventually, listening for other intriguing stories…

After several such encounters, I begin to realize that no one there is interacting at all!  I start to wonder if perhaps they are all rehearsing their parts for some bigger show, and concentrating so fully upon their own contribution, that they cannot even hear the chaos around them anymore…?  Fascinated, I start looking more closely at the individuals I pass, seeking clarification as to their purpose there…

Suddenly I realize I’ve wandered all the way through the room, and have now reached the Other side.  And there I encounter the only silence I have witnessed in this vast space of competing voices.  For sitting there, along the wall, are other silent Observers.  One of them glances up at me as I approach, and smiles a wry but sincere grin.  And there, shining in his/her eyes is the wisdom I came here seeking…

We need no words between us to understand now what is happening.  That simple connection, that eye contact, says it all…

We came here to learn something about our selves, by sharing who we are, and by acknowledging our Others.  And every one of those self-absorbed speakers is a reflection of who we once were, and could easily become.  It happens when we get so focused on what we have to say, that we no longer listen to anyone else; we literally get so caught up in our own tales, that we wind up chasing our own tails.  And our entire Universe shrinks, becoming nothing more than an echo chamber in which we can hear ourselves speak…

I smile warmly at one of the Other observers, and gesture at the empty seat next to them, lifting one eyebrow in question.  Silently, (s)he nods and smiles, so I sit down.  Together, we continue to watch the noisy gathering filling up this space…

Some time later it occurs to me that all those people speaking, all at once, has become nothing more than a background buzz for the whisper in my heart…

“Shhh…,” I hear, in the calm Center of my soul…  “shh…  just listen…

And learn.”

  

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