This might sound weird, but: I love my blender. Or food processor? It might be a food processor. I am not an expert at kitchen appliances, I’m just a fan.
What used to require a mortar and pestle and all the upper arm strength in the world can now be accomplished with the flip of a switch and a lot of noise. Press a button, you get hummus, pesto, salted almond butter, sometimes even hot chocolate, just like that.
There was a time that I did not know you could make almond butter with a kitchen appliance. That time was not so long ago.
It is loud, though. Louder than angels bowling (which is what my mom used to tell us was happening during thunderstorms). This is more like angels driving a truck through your kitchen.
My kids aren’t startled by it anymore, but I wouldn’t say they’ve accepted the reality of it, either. I turn it on, the noise of a small tornado comes barreling into the room, and the kids just keep on talking to each other. Of course, no one can hear anything anyone else is saying, so all their conversations turn into a back-and-forth of yelling things, and yelling more things, and then yelling, WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?!
Something. What? Something. WHAT? SOMETHING. WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU.
This is about the time I realize that they might need some parenting wisdom so I shout as helpfully as I can, “THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU. YOU CAN’T HEAR EACH OTHER. NO ONE CAN HEAR ANYTHING STOP YELLING.” But no one can hear ME. So. It’s awesome.
Note to everyone with a blender, mostly to the people in my house: This does not work.
Other things that do not work:
– Looking confused
– Shouting about the problem
– Asking the people right next to you what people across the room are saying (they can’t hear either!)
What we’re learning is, you can’t just get louder. You have to GET CLOSER. You have to lean in and listen.
Because no matter how loud Audrey hollers, if Owen is across the room, he is never going to understand her. No matter how important Eli’s words are, Sadie is never going to hear them unless she is standing close and looking right at him.
So often our job—in our families, in the world, in our own hearts—is to listen. So much of our important work starts there, even when there are no kitchen appliances running.
When we listen, the people around us feel heard and loved and valued. We just have to get close enough to hear. We can’t stand on the other side of the room and shout, “I can’t understand you! I just don’t get it!” We have to get closer.
We have to get closer to ourselves, too, which might sound physically impossible but stick with me here.
To know who you are and what you’re about, you have to listen for the still, small voice inside you. You have to choose not to distract yourself from it. You have to separate yourself from all the noise and the outside opinions and the expectations that get in between your heart and your head. You have to get close enough to know what matters to you.
And yes, close is scary. Yes, close takes courage. Close means you can’t hide, and close means you could get hurt. You might make your best attempt at connection and still come away alone. Or you might connect, but discover hard things in the listening. You might have to find compassion for yourself and for others. Getting closer is scary, but it’s the only way to get past all the noise.
If you want to be understood: get closer.
If you want to understand: get closer.
It’s not about being the loudest. It’s about getting close enough to look right at each other, to see and hear and understand. When the world gets loud, move in closer. If you’re close enough, you can whisper and still connect.
You can’t understand other people from across the room. You can’t get to know your neighbor from behind the doors of your own house. You can’t even understand what you need unless you slow down and quiet all the noise that’s gotten in the way of your own knowing. You have to get closer. You have to get closer. You have to GET CLOSER.
We can’t just be louder. We have to get closer.
Everything that gets in between you and the people around you, everything that gets in the way of you knowing your own heart—anxieties and expectations, differences and opinions, people-pleasing and pretending—it’s all just noise. And noise can be overcome.
It starts with this. Get closer.