Thursday, March 13, 2008

Listening Book Chapter 5, unedited

You know we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Funny thing for a potter to say.
We learn when we listen and you usually don’t learn a thing when you are talking unless you are evaluating recent knowledge.
I was visiting Pu’Uhonua o Honaunau, a historical park today, commonly called the City of Refuge, and heard some interesting words from a demonstrating wood carver and park ranger named Tom De Aguiar. A young man walked by with his golden retrievers unleashed and the ranger said, “Hey, you gotta get the dogs on a leash.” The young man ignored him and instead of going after him or yelling, he mumbled a little under his breath and did not look angry or at all irritated.
He said, “There is a time to listen and there is a time to not listen. The not listening person is the one not interested. The one who is listening is learning their peace. The other is not ready.” Then he kept carving a hiking stick he was working on for a man getting ready to retire. I do believe he is a good listener.
Earlier in the park I heard a loud and grabby lady, asking where is all the information, what should she be looking at? Are there any organized tours? Don’t they have another map like the one on display she can buy? The lady was wearing out the lady park ranger and was hardly hearing any answers. She was exhausting to listen to and had no idea the answers were right in front of her. The maps were in a box, the information was neatly numbered to match the map and there was a park path to follow as well. The lady ranger explained there would be an official tour later but lady wandered off. She had not listened even when she asked the loud questions in a nearly rude way.
We were on ancient royal grounds where they killed people like her for disobeying and not following the rules.
In this ancient ground of spiritual power, those who had broken the Kapu meaning they could not look at or get close to the chief, walk in the chiefs footsteps, touch the chiefs possessions, or let his (her) shadow fall on the ground, were punished. Women could not eat the foods reserved for offerings for the gods; they could not prepare food for the men or eat with them. When a kapu was broken the person was put to death. If they did not punish the guilty then the gods would get them. Thus, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions or earthquakes.
So much for the lady asking questions unless she could make it to the Place of Refuge, another area in the park behind a large stone wall where everyone is or was given a second chance. No blood could be shed there. In those days, old people, sick, too young or defeated enemies could wait out battles thanks to the bones of dead kings being buried there. Everyone was released and given another chance. So what happened to that good idea? And we are the civilized ones?
Listening is important. If you want to learn how to make art you need to listen and it is a good idea not to be grabbing information but take it with grace and give it time to jell. If you cannot understand it you are not ready for it.
No one should want to be a shallow expert. It is good to keep your confidence but keep the gate of your mind open.
When beginners come to my shop and I give them free information so the art will grow, I am amazed how many become experts immediately and start spouting off absolutes. I am still a beginner and I started 35 or 40 years ago. If I thought I new it all I would move on and try something new.

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