Because of covid most of us are holding meetings online and we are facing new challenges in communication. Our meetings can be disrupted by background home noise, static, poor connections, and the ubiquitous mute button. We can have the video on or off and that in itself can affect communication. I rely heavily on non-verbal signs and often feel blind and disconnected even with full audio if many people have their video off.

Sometimes I see this happening when people are out and about. Many are plugged into music, news, or podcasts when they walk. I feel sad for them because they are missing so much audio around them. I used to listen to music when I ran because it was motivational and I listen to music when I work because it keeps me company. But when I take my daily walks I have my ears wide open.

What do I hear? All kinds of bird calls, from blackbirds, crows, and robins, greeting the morning, to the ducks and geese and seagulls as they migrate across the sky. I hear the pounding of woodpeckers and the many-song Stellar jays and the hooting owls even though I rarely see them. Recently I have been entertained by choruses of frogs. And sometimes it’s just nice to hear and feel the wind blowing in the trees.

I also welcome sometimes the things I don’t hear. in the early morning, there isn’t that much traffic so the sounds of silence are precious. A number of years ago my wife and I traveled to Moab Utah and visited with a friend who took us to Arches National Monument, where it was so quiet you could almost hear the proverbial pin drop.

Do you have times when you are able to soak in the sounds of nature? do you have times to listen to the sounds of silence? Or is your life filled with a cacophony of sounds all competing for your attention? And when you converse with others how much of that time are you speaking and how much are you listening to others? Communication is a two-way street and unfortunately, many people are listening to respond instead of listening to learn. We need to use our ears wisely.