Alexis Milligan

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Cultivating a Culture of Listening

The fear to speak.  The fear to stand up and say something in opposition.  Is it in the speaking of the thought? Or is it more in the fear of how the thought will be received? Or perceived? How our image may change because of how or why we have expressed something.

The culture of listening.  To be open to receiving.  To not have the answer, or the final word.  To let go into the shared discovery of something new.  Something that cannot be anticipates, or assumed.

Art gives us is the sense of the whole.  We sing together, we play music together, we move and dance together, we paint our own interpretations of what we see and they will hang on the wall together, allowing us to share perspective.  To accept that we may each play the notes a different way but together we make music.

If asked to paint an apple a classroom of students will each draw something different, no two will be the same.  How our hand/eye coordinations works, how we perceive shape and colour, will be different.  And some will be more compelling or engaging to our eyes for different reasons.

There are many layers to perception, to subjective interpretation.

As we relate to the world we have a lens through which we interpret what is around us. This lens has developed over our lifetime , and continues to grow with us. Because each of us interpret life uniquely it is a wonder we find common ground at all. And yet, that is what feeds the necessity for language.

But, even as we say the same words do we attach the same meaning? Of course, we can never know. But we do know what it means to be loved. We do know what it means to fear. To experience pain. To feel safe. So, in our need for love, and in our fear of pain/frustration, we find a common sensation that exists. A common ground of feeling from which we then interpret, with words, those feelings and where they might be coming from.

It’s locating the base point, uncovering the shared thing between two people, which can only come when we listen to the thoughts, feelings and interpretations of those we are in conversation with.

We feel cared for when we share our lives with people: our insight, our wisdom, our humour, our stories. There are people who are very open to sharing, and those who aren’t. There are those who fear sharing because they might get hurt, or have shared in the past and been hurt as a result, but if you catch someone’s eye and a smile, you have shared something. So then we enter into the layers of the shared experience. The shared moment.

Isn’t it a wonder, then, what we have in this life of theatre. This shared experience. People who come to be apart of that moment of sharing, to feel cared for (even inside of subject matter that might be “interpreting difficult knowledge”).

Art, is the shared experience. It can only exist between people.


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