10/10/2012 02:01 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2012

Hear With Your Heart


The title says it all. The words "he" (representing humanity), "hear, ear and art" are neatly contained in the word "heart," staring me in the face right now, asking "what could be more clear?" Wow, "ear" is there again in the word "clear" -- reinforcing this point! "Let them who have ears... "

I had an epiphany one morning this week. After days, maybe weeks of construction on the street where I live, the clamoring, clanging, riveting, racket had done its job of jolting me awake and shattering my nerves as it continued for hours.

It eventually dawned on my very annoyed mind that this noisy violence was essential -- breaking down old structures (patterns?) is essential in order to build anew (rethink?). True, these guys were disturbing everyone but maybe themselves; on the other hand, they were hammering out homes, places for families to live. Remember, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, though that procedure is quite quiet.

Since what is resisted persists, acceptance of "what is" helped remove the actual source of discomfort: the anger of intrusion on my peace and rest. I moved into the somewhat quieter den, donned some good earphones and wished the workers well. By the way, Muffie my cat slept soundly through the whole ordeal.

He who hears with his heart creates the art of the ear. Bad writing. Good idea.

Music offers graphic analogies:

- The pounding of percussion echo heartbeats of lovers.
- Violins tug at their heartstrings.
- The flutter of flutes murmur excitedly.

I'm getting positively poetic!

On a more mundane note:

Notice how we respond to crying babies and shrieking toddlers. I wonder if, in part, these little ones are responding to our disapproval as much as to their own inner distress.

On a non-stop five-hour flight to New York from Seattle I sat behind an exhausted, pregnant mother holding an enormous redheaded 8-month-old boy with a set of lungs to match. Finally an inspired flight attendant took pity on the child, his mom and the rest of the passengers. She smilingly took the kid and navigated the aisle cooing to him. He broke into a big grin, kissed the attendant -- twice -- and gave us all a little respite! Guess she was listening with her heart.

My own son, at 6 or so, had a hissy fit at Bloomies because he couldn't squeeze his baby-fat bottom into the chinos he craved. It took the buyer of the boy's department and the floor manager to placate his hysteria -- I wasn't much help.

A Course in Miracles says that every unkind act is a cry for love. The Buddha practiced compassion. All spiritual leaders admonish us to observe some version of "Do unto others..."

Maybe the Dalai Lama would stroll in traffic to avoid the brigade of strollers barricading all pedestrians except themselves. Maybe certain diners at upscale restaurants also reserved the right to treat the premises as their private dining room, making normal conversation levels inaudible.

Maybe seemingly-able-bodied teenagers can't read the signs requesting that certain seats be offered to the aged and/or the infirm.

Emily Post, where are you now that I need you most?

Divinity, I most humbly petition you for an upgrade in my acknowledged attitude toward inconsideration, by others and myself.

Please grant me the patience of a saint as I acquire the art of hearing with my heart!

For more by Irene Tanner, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.