At the beginning of the year I fled the big city of Los Angeles and headed for the redwood mountains of Santa Cruz. I find myself still somewhere in the middle, halfway up the coast, house sitting for my mother... in a garden full of flowers and birds, surrounded by oak trees. It has been a strange kind of limbo between my past and my future... letting go of the addictive hyper-stimulation of city life. Like John Lennon’s song... “no longer riding on the merry go round, I just had to let it go.”
Being here in the quiet of nature has been teaching me about the nature of listening. Most people think that listening is about listening to someone’s words while they are speaking to us. That is the polite thing to do and helps us feel like we’re relating with others. But real listening is not a one way process. It is not as if there is a message outside of us that gets dropped into a mailbox through our ears, and we simply read the data. Real listening involves noticing how we feel when we receive information from the world outside. Everything that comes in has a frequency, which may or may not correspond to the words in the message. When we are rushing around trying to make ends meet, we rarely stop to notice how those frequencies harmonize or dis-harmonize with our own.
We each have our own radio station that we tune into, which is how we receive the essence of who we are and transmit that to the world we live in. Are we spending our lives denying that source, instead turning to television and Facebook and social acquaintances in order to establish a way to respond to the world?
So what does flirting have to do with listening? Because I like to take things that seem serene and potentially “serious” and give them a twist. Life is more fun like that. And because flirting often has a negative connotation that alludes to seduction or manipulation with a sexual aim. That’s one side of the coin. What about natural, soulful flirtation that just happens when two creatures find harmony with each other? I believe that flowers flirt with bees and that the most artful baker flirts with his bread, and that’s why it’s so good.
Flirting for manipulative purposes gets us something we momentarily desire by faking who we are. It doesn’t honor the truth of the other. If we learn to listen to the world around us, flirting becomes a harmony that surges from the depth of our soul, in full respect and response to what truly inspires us.
Yes, we can learn something from the birds and the bees.