Thursday, March 26, 2009

Am I listening?

Cover of "To Bless the Space Between Us: ...Cover via Amazon

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece from the John O'Donohue **book, To Bless the Space Between Us, of course giving him credit for the work. I received a comment from the O'Donohue Trust reminding me that the work I had issued was copyrighted. I felt perhaps the authorities (?) would soon be at my door, but knowing that it was unlikely Mr. O'Donohue's organization would be narrow- minded nor vindictive, and wanting ever so much to again quote from this marvelous little book, I sent off an email to them inquiring about the proper procedure they would like to see in place. I received a very prompt and pleasant reply and with proper copyright information at the bottom of this page, I offer you this quote from Page 4 - Mr. O'Donohue quotes from letters between Boris Pasternak and Olga Ivinskaya*:

"When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, its sound is often no louder than the beating of your heart and it is very easy to miss it."

Mr. O'Donohue goes on to say -

"To live a conscious life, we need to constantly refine our listening."**

I find these words both from Boris and Olga, as well as John, to be impactful and relevant in regard to all of my relationships - with God, in a casual encounter with a stranger, in the deep love I share with my spouse, in the monumental responsibilities and joys shared with children, siblings, and extended family - all relationships.

How do I listen, how often do I listen, what do I hear, and how often do I give thanks for the awareness that I need to refine, to carefully hone my practice of listening? How about you - what does living a conscious life mean to you and how do you refine your listening?

*public domain

**© John O'Donohue. All rights reserved

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  1. I do indeed care about listening. I've been trained and commissioned to do it in the name of Jesus. It is a responsibility that sometimes frightens me and strikes me with a degree of awe at the responsibility.

    One of my favorite interviews on "Speaking of Faith" is entitled "Listening Generously." Careful listening can bring profound changes to the the listener and the speaker. I continue to be conscious of listening, and do try to refine my listening. That implies the difficult task of not speaking.

    Your post brought to mind another issue that also tweaked my conscience. Since I'm not a blogger and comment rarely, I don't worry too much about copyright infringement because of quotes on a public site. However, one of my big concerns about "the authorities" has been whether I would indeed receive the "penalty of law" after tearing the tag off the mattress, or chair, or pad, or ...

    Fortunately the words on the tags have finally been changed to exempt "the consumer." I try to be careful with stuff, but probably would still be considered a "consumer." I've been worried since I was about nine years old and tore the tag of a patio chair while visiting in San Diego. I would not have been so worried in Oklahoma, but as soon as I tore the tag and read it, I was concerned about the authorities in the foreign state of California coming after me. Over fifty years later, I still remember the feeling. Fortunately, I've quit looking over my shoulder for "the authorities" regarding that incident.

    (One of the hazards of posting to thoughtful message is that some crackpot will respond in a weird fashion. ;-) )

    Thanks for listening (or reading). I feel better.

    Geezer D

  2. Hi Geezer - Nice to hear from you and thank you for your thoughts on listening. I agree that listening places a responsibility upon all of us if we are willing to take it seriously and particularly if we've taken a pledge to listen in the name of Jesus. It is an awesome (and sometimes frightening) responsibility.

    Regarding the copyright infringements, having not encountered them before here at MS, I was a little surprised to receive a note that I had somehow not followed the appropriate rules for credit. Receiving that note makes me less inclined to quote a book or an author for fear I will offend the reigning management....which brings me to point of wondering whether strict rules bring isolation in the marketplace. If one cannot share the wisdom found in a writing, doesn't that eventually make the writing less known and perhaps forgotten....well, anyway, enough of that and on to important things.

    I think it's quite liberating to tear off the "warning" signs on new items and do it all the time. I truly laugh about how many years it actually took me to realize that those tags were not sacred!!:)

    BTW - from one crackpot idea writer to another, yours are not so weird!

  3. Regarding copyright issues, I heard this quote from author Naomi Novik, "The biggest danger to most authors, to most storytellers, is not that somebody is going to steal your work and pass it along — it is that nobody is ever going to see your work." The quote was in an article I heard on NPR. The article reviewed issues of copyright protection in a digital age. It revisits the issue on how an entity may actually be smothered by "protecting" it. The risk exists with respect to books, music, organizations, and ... people.

  4. There NPR article about DRM (digital rights management) is here. (I biffed the html in the previous comment.)

  5. I certainly do my share of quoting and am careful to indicate the source, although not as meticulously as you have done here. Often people comment that a given book has been put on their "to buy" list. If I were to cease from using quotations, as I might be inclined to do, it would hardly benefit the publishers/authors. So far, I have not been contacted. Puzzling, indeed.

  6. Geezer - thank you for the article re copyrighting. I am in agreement with
    Naomi Novik that over-sheltering one's work is NOT the way for it to become known!

    Barbara - oh, so true. I have purchased so many books in the last few years due to my blogging friends' recommendations - O'Donohue's book being one of those. I never would have heard of his work had it not been from beautiful quotes and salutes to his memory. And, I find that authors here online are quite eager to note that a piece is not necessarily of their originality, rather the author that they praise by reproducing the words.

    With all due respect to Mr. O'Donohue's memory and work, I believe he would want us sharing his work over and over rather than trying to stick to a copyright issue that would discourage us from using the work. Thank you so much for your comments!

  7. oh my, it seems like two topics are happening here. i started out wanting to post on the "compassionate listening" piece and then i ran across the rabbit trail of copyright. all good discussions, indeed.

    now back to "listening"...i have been pondering much myself what those little moments that we might miss look like. they are brief and fleeting. i have had a week filled with moments both large and small; some in community; some in the quiet of my studio; some witnessing the grandiosity of creation--i was reminded that by having such a full week in the presence of "real" people, i have missed the contact and beautiful moments that i love here on the web.

    thank you for this lovely post, the incited commentary and for sharing the thoughts on copyright.

    fear of tearing tags...i think is must be genetic. i have become much more liberal in my tag removing, however, i was greatly relieved when the words "by consumer" were added so that i did not have to tear tags under cover of darkness with fear of swooping authorities.

  8. Geezer, Barbara, Lucy - thank you all so much for your comments! I was going a little bonkers thinking about the copyright issues in light of knowing how many books we all "sell" through our reading, posting, recommending.

    And the tag thing - just too funny that it takes us so long to grow out of that childhood thing of following the rules and not daring to disobey a hangtag because it's in writing there for us to read and obey!