Sometimes my dog jumps up from where he is sitting in the house and begins barking frantically. My initial inclination, still, is to shush him and admonish him for “barking at nothing”. But I always stop myself. I am aware that his hearing is many times more acutely tuned than mine, and what I perceive as “nothing” (or, more correctly, fail to perceive at all) is in actuality very real. And, not only does he hear it, but – I can tell when his ears perk up – he listens. Dogs gather a wealth of information about the world around them through their ears that we can only begin to fathom.
If I take the time to think about it, I wonder what he hears that I do not. There are all kinds of clues and information provided by our environment that we are not privy to, simply by virtue of the limitations of the physiology of our species.
But this is not just an inter-species issue…
How often do we encounter people in our lives who react to things we perceive as “nothing”? If you ever get the urge to frustratedly tell someone to “calm down!”, pause… set aside your own discomfort, and consider for a moment… Clearly their perception and understanding of this particular event or circumstance differs from yours, but consider in the moment that it may simply be deeper. Is their “over the top” reaction worthy of being dismissed, simply because yours is not as intense?
Rather than demanding calm, how can you better serve this person in a moment of distress?
My bet is that you can do more to help them achieve calm by listening. Listening opens a space for healing. Listening is where communication and understanding begin. Listening is where compassion is born.
And sometimes howling at the moon is just about needing to feel heard.