Learning to Unlisten

sweetmadness2We live in a noisy world and a noisy time. Even the silent moments of today are filled with noise—filled with a stream of videos, podcasts, blog entries, updates, tweets and texts. Most of our everyday lives are guided by councilors, classes, and curriculum. Our outlooks are influenced by forums, workshops, groups, guides and gurus. Our decisions are ruled by opinions, options, suggestions, and education. There’s all sorts of schooling, training and guidance out there. In fact, there’s an instruction manual for everything even on how to live your own life.

The only problem is: it is written by someone else.

That’s why you don’t know what to pick. That’s why you don’t know what to choose. That’s why you’re never satisfied with your choices for more than a few moments (maybe a couple of hours, maybe a couple of days), because there’s always another alternative, isn’t there? Another someone, another something, another choice that you could have picked?

But then you picked this one. Now what?

Soon you find yourself feeling that anxious twitch again. And then, without too much resistance, you begin asking your usual questions. Did I make the right decision? What if I’m not satisfied? What if I picked the wrong one? What if I chose the other one? Can I still return this one? Both seem nice. Both seem right. And there are a hundred more like these two, and they all seem like good choices for me.

I don’t know what to do!

Such are the symptoms of a degenerating life, a life of confusion where reality becomes a double-lie: you want it but you don’t.

The speed in which this information overdose assaults the senses makes it impossible for you to form, process, update and aggregate your own beliefs; and instead you are just left to react, copy and repeat. In the end the choices will still be there, but what you will have lost is time—time in discovering and developing what you could have been.

Steven Spielberg once said, “Your instincts, your human personal intuition, always whispers. It never shouts. So everyday you have to be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.” 

In today’s world—where most of everything is hyped, inflated and hollow—you have to work extra hard to escape the general insanity of the noise. You have to learn to unlisten and hear on your own, see on your own, speak on your own, and think on your own. You have to give your fictitious self a rest and give your animal instincts a chance. Accept responsibility for your actions and the probability of errors. Decide with conviction and stand by your decision. Because either way, the consequences are yours to face whether you make them or not. So why delegate your mistakes to others?

The answers that you seek—your ultimate fate, the final version of you—are secrets which will only be revealed in your final moments. But until then you have to be brave in being yourself, because courage before death is what we call “life.”

So beware of a life made cold, cautious and conscious by an abundance of irrelevant “choices.” Beware of drowning your inner voice with unnecessary noise.

But above all…

Carl Sandburg


  1. This is so true and so sad. Thank you for taking the time to observe the process of dependancy…Only without it life is freedom.

  2. Thank you for this post. Sometimes inspirational bloggers forget that every personality whether good or bad has its own little importance in this world. This serves as a reminder to self. 🙂

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I get interested in a topic, and then I do a ton of research, find out everything I can about it. Then at a certain point I have to strike out on my own, find my OWN understanding, and in order to do so I have to unlearn some of those teachings. It’s a tricky proposition at the best of times.

    1. Exactly. I have the same process in writing or in filming. I learn the material until it becomes second nature to me, only to drop it at the last moment and make it my own. Thanks for commenting!

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