On Being Read

I’ll begin by saying that I know I’ve written about Callanish often lately, most recently about Kathy’s all-too-soon parting with the earthly world. It’s only because they’ve made such a wild, and surprising difference for me. But tonight, I attended an event marking the turn of seasons, the equinox that happened today at 7:29 pm PST. When I walked into Callanish tonight, I was greeted by the most stunning of bouquets, a bouquet filled with orange and purple and red and deep jewel tones, a bouquet capable of taking my breath away, a bouquet in utter and total stunning beauty. And so went the evening of counsel: beautiful, breath-taking, heart-open, full. People remembered Kathy, and they shared their desire for a hopeful future, and they let us into their complete heartbreak surrounding her death, and they sang songs and trusted and listened and ate cookies.

Urged by J The Wise, the woman at the helm of Callanish, I tried to listen entirely, I tried to hang onto each word, I tried not to think about whether I would talk (no, I had already decided) and I tried to savour each word, each chord, each feeling, each tear, each nervous laughter, each moment of silence, each hand reaching into mine, each line of wisdom shared.

I did speak after all, and more than one person asked me, afterwards, if I was “the Chelsey that wrote the blog.” I was. indeed. How interesting to be told by others how much my tiny little corner of networked media means to them, how profound for so many people to tell me that my brief words about a woman I only knew to be great meant so much to them.

I almost didn’t know what to say. I giggled nervously. I thanked them for reading. It wasn’t until I was on my way out the door that I finally worked up the courage to say how I really felt- When  The Callanish Doc In Residence told me she read/watched again and again, I told the The Callanish Doc In Residence how honoured I was that something I wrote could touch her so much she cried. And it is true. It is so heartening to know that the writing that helped me to process news that shook me to the core- news that came with a sadness that surprised me- could also help someone else, could also be meaningful to someone else, could also touch someone else.

I think it is the quality of listening, the quality of hanging on words and ideas and emotions, the quality of being so present that nothing else exists, that is so precious and hopeful, this quality that draws us together, demands we be together even, in community.

Some people- OK, lots of people- would say this quality of listening is outside of technology, a quality of listening that manifests in circles without cellphones,a quality of listening achieved in community counsel circles with stunning bouquets and iPhones silenced (but still buzzing- I heard them). I beg to differ. As always, I love a good theoretical debate. But tonight, I’ve also got an emotional, embodied experience that makes me shake my head at claim that this quality of listening has something to do with/out technology.

Because you see, you’ve all given it to me. You’ve shown me that in this very digital space, there is a quality of listening to be had that is deep and profound. You’ve shown me I can be heard. You’ve shown me you listen (and I do know how many, many of you read this blog daily, and I am touched. I won’t pretend I don’t check the stats like, always. I love seeing the countries this blog makes it to!) and you’ve shown me you value these words, through your sheer consistency, and tonight, through your words and kind, kind, comments.

I am humbled. Humbled to be read, to be understood with a quality of listening that is rare and deep. Humbled that you read these words, because truth be told, I’m much more articulate in writing than I can ever be between silly laughs and awkward pauses in my speech.

And so I thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for continuing to listen. Sometimes I wonder if my “readership” will go down now that I’m cancer-free (or something- Dr. G never calls it that, but she does speak of hoping I’m “cured”) but amazingly,  you continue to read. How grateful I am to you, how generous of you to allow me this space to share what I know and what I wonder and mostly, what I don’t know; how kind of you to read with such attention, to comment with such open hearts, to love wholly and without expectations. How profound to experience a quality of listening so whole, so heartful, so wide that it jumps across the globe. It is amazing to imagine my community, my community reading my posts- and to know that my imagined community is so impactful it consistently, coherently, and relentlessly, in a hundred wild ways, makes material impact on the world.

Tonight, I am humbled. Because you listen with a quality I never anticipated, because this space has come to mean so very much to me, because I am certain I wouldn’t have gotten through the cancer without you reading this blog, because storytelling is part of who we are as humans, because you care, I am humbled.