When You’re Ready to Listen (re-broadcast)

[ cold intro ]

This week and next, I’m following my own counsel and taking some much-needed time off as I take elegant care of myself. When I come back, I’ll have new things to share with you. In the meantime, here’s the first of two re-broadcasts of my early episodes.

This week, we’ll saddle up and ride into a storm with a few cowboys as they learn what it means to pay attention.

Next week, we’ll watch a flight of egrets flying across a line of dark clouds in the distance and we’ll notice the peace that came as a result of becoming still as they passed by.

I hope you enjoy them, and I look forward to joining you again soon. Til’ then, here’s Episode Nine, called When You’re Ready To Listen.

[ brief pause as theme music rises ]

It’s been said that better questions lead us naturally to better answers, and that it’s in not knowing that we open the doorway to knowing. I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that truly matter in a complex world.

[ brief pause ]

I’ll open with a fragment of a story that I’m writing, and although you may not ride horses—especially not in a thunderstorm—you might recognize a bit of yourself in the story. Stay with me as a cowboy who learns a lesson the hard way. And then, I’ll share a few thoughts about how to make that process a lot easier.

[ brief pause as music fades ]

[ wind rising and horses nickering ]
[steps through dry grass and leaves ]

In the far north pasture, we dismounted in knee-high grass that swayed in the breeze as we walked through it. Then, we tied our horses and stepped under the wide umbrella of a stand of old cathedral oaks.


photo: Team One


[ crow cawing ]

Not a man to rush, CW sat his horse a while, eyes closed, his weathered face turned to take in what galloped toward him on the wind. We kept our voices low and let him be.

[ wind rising again – saddle creaking – spurs jingling ]

In a while, his saddle creaked when he stepped down and offered private praise to his horse, his hand stroking the animal from poll to shoulder.

“Rain soon,” he said, when he joined us. Then he brought out his makings and took his time as he rolled a smoke one-handed, lit it, and stood there listening, without saying another word.

It was just a trace, but on the breeze, I finally caught the scent I’d not been still enough to notice. Dust and rain and prairie grass all mixed together in that tumbling of dry earth and wet sky. Then, from the southern ridge, a low, drawn-out rumbling.

[ distant thunder ]

I stepped out of the trees and around the horses and saw the storm clawing its way across the hills. I knew that it would be on us in minutes.

[ spurred boots walking through dry grass ]

CW stepped out, stripped his cigarette, and put the bit of paper in his vest pocket. Then he untied his slicker from the cantle of his saddle, shook it out, and put it on.

[ CW shaking out his slicker ]
[ horse galloping off ]

He mounted up without a word and rode out toward the storm, and we lit out right behind him.

[ heavy thunder clap ]

Soon enough, the sky darkened and all but swallowed us, pounding us with buckshot rain as we made the hard ride back to shelter.

[ horses galloping – heavy rain and thunder ]

Up ahead of us, CW’s yellow slicker glistened in the lightning, and I had to laugh at my rain-soaked self. In my mind, I could hear him saying, as he often does, “You’ll figger it out eventually.” He was right, of course.

[ galloping and thunder fade away ]
[ steady rain hitting wet ground – distant thunder ]

When we finally reached the barn, and I hauled my saddle and blanket to the tack room, I passed by him close enough to hear him whisper, chuckling under his breath, “Well…?”

He didn’t wait for my answer. He didn’t need one. Men like CW know that when you’re ready to listen, the lesson speaks for itself.

[ thunder and rain slowly fade ]

The literal translation of the word “meek” has nothing to do with being weak or being a push-over. The word means “teachable,” implying the qualities of humility, willingness, and the keeping of an open mind. In fact, doesn’t it take a certain strength to learn anything?

It’s often said that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” When that student is truly teachable, how often the teacher is life itself.

Unlike the narrator in my story, I’ve never galloped through a thunderstorm without a slicker, but I’ll confess that by not paying attention, I’ve certainly made countless other mistakes, some of which cost me more than I was prepared to pay.

I’m more than fortunate that in time, life and something inside me worked together to soften me enough that I was finally willing to become more present and listen from a deeper place. I think of the personal motto of the artist, Michaelangelo when he wrote in Latin, Ancora Imparo, which translates to English as “I am still learning.”

[ brief pause ]

Isn’t it good to know that when we’re paying attention, we can always learn something new, and that when we get the lesson, we might even avoid making the mistake a second time?

One sure way of making the learning process quicker and easier is to stop adding judgment to the mistake. I think of how many times I’ve berated myself, applying labels that I acquired from other people. Every time I did it, I shut down just a little more.

And yet, each time we intentionally suspend the habit of judgment, something in us relaxes and we open a little.

Think about it, one of the things that has made it possible for you to arrive at this point in your life, this moment, is that you have been learning, day by day, every single day of your life.

And so, because that’s true, as you intentionally stop to breathe and open your awareness today, just a little more, and as you choose to withdraw self-judgment, I wonder what will life will be able to show you? And I wonder what you’ll learn.

[ brief pause ]

This week, I’m asking the Beautiful Question, over and over:

“How may I let go and pay attention as I really listen in this moment?”

If you’re willing to join me, are you also willing to relax a little bit and ask that question of yourself? But don’t work at it. Play with it. Make it a game. And as you do, it will become easier, and you’ll be more successful.

[ brief pause ]

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

[ theme music & sign-off ]

[ brief pause as theme music rises ]

Thank you for joining me in these podcasts as we keep doing the things we can to respond to life in increasingly effective ways. As always, I’m open to your comments and feedback.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at thebeautifulquestion.com, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. You’ll also find an archive of all previous podcasts, including episodes three and four, guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, don’t hesitate to share them or tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world.

[ brief pause ]

I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

[ brief pause ]

The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

[ theme music swells and fades out ]

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