Late at night my son is crying, the poor little guy is fighting through his second cold and this one is a doozie. I stumble into the room in a half-awake state, grab the nose-frida and get to mining. The first pass is always easy, the Wee Baby T doesn’t know what’s coming. Now you’ve got to fight through flailing arms and legs, his face twisting in every which way as he tries to dodge the tube, his cries echoing louder. Suddenly his mutterings turn from cries and indistinct babytalk babbling to a sentence, clear as day – “I want my mamma!”
T is 8 months old and unless he’s stuck singing the first 2 syllables of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’, he can’t speak. But there it is. In my mind he cried out in the dark for his mother, because she was the only one who could save him from this vicious monster lurking over him trying to remove his brains through his nostril. I’ll not lie, it hit me hard; harder than I would have thought.
I continued my nasal excavation until his breathing sounded less like a train, picked him up from his crib and sat in the dark for some nice cuddles. I realize it was my mind interpreting his babytalk, and he clearly didn’t hate me – after about a minute I had woken up enough to understand that. But it got me thinking, how often do we hear what isn’t being said? Are we listening for what we want to hear, or do we only hear what is around us? Do we interpret what is being said fairly or are we tied up in our own BABS (Biases and Blind Spots. I learned that one at a leadership retreat!)
Segue, but it ties in to babytalk:
Lately I’ve come to hate politics. Platforms no longer matter, instead we are worried about who rocks the best yoga pose or who has the worst hair. We only read news outlets that we agree with, and with social media it is all too easy to silence our friends who have opinions that differ from our own. Their statements become no more meaningful than babytalk itself. With constant reaffirmation that we are right, how can we have a normal conversation with someone who believes otherwise? Everything we have seen and heard confirms our opinions.
When we only listen for what we want to hear we end up hurting ourselves. Hearing a baby tell you that your efforts to comfort him are insufficient will drop your very heart into the abyss of inadequacy, even if it is only in your mind. What effect will our echo chambers have on us?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have an opinion, I’m not targeting any one side or another. There is no guilty party in any of this. When it comes to politics my echo chamber is now the soothing sound of the ocean, like putting your ear to a seashell. It’s peaceful here, I only hear what I want to hear – nothing at all.