“In a monastery garden, a wise old monk who was blind was walking with a pupil….
“It was a beautiful spring day. The garden was just coming to bloom and the wind blew softly. As the monk and his pupil passed near a large peach tree, the teacher moved his head in order to miss the overhanging boughs.
“The student looked startled and asked, “Teacher, how is it you saw those limbs?”
“The blind monk replied, “To see with the eyes is only one sensation. I heard the wind singing softly in the tree’s branches.”
“The pupil looked puzzled as the blind monk continued. “Close your eyes and tell me what you hear. Do you hear your heart beating? Do you hear the footfall of the monk across the courtyard? Do you hear the grasshopper at your feet?
“The young pupil looked down in astonishment and saw the first grasshopper of the new spring.
“How do you hear these things?” the pupil exclaimed.
“The blind monk answered, “How do you not hear them?”
Sunday Sermons, Voicing Publications
Deep listening isn’t easy in today’s world: There are so many sounds and demands and distractions that can make really hearing what’s around us a challenge. And yet, as writers, we can be far more effective and skilled in creating our imaginary worlds for our readers if we use all the senses to evoke that world. Hearing, touch, and smell – these are powerful tools we can use along with seeing – and the more often we bring them into play in our stories, the more real and alive they become.
So let’s listen to the wind and the footfalls around us. And let’s listen, really listen, to what people say: there’s a goldmine just waiting to be tapped! Write on.