Quick To Listen

“Hey!  Your speakers aren’t working right!”  The young man talking–yelling really–was at a music concert.  He had made his way through the noisy crowd, back to the sound booth, where the lighting controls and the house sound-system modules were stacked all around.  There was row upon row of sliders and rotary knobs, along with a snake-pit full of wires coming from, and going to, who-knows-where.  The fellow operating the controls was grinning with delight at the sound blasting back at him from the stage.  He continued sliding one control from left to right and back to the left again as he looked up at the patron.  “What did you say?” he shouted, cupping his hand to his ear.  “I said your speakers…Wait a minute!”  The concert-goer turned his back momentarily to the technician and listened to the sound resonating from the equipment onstage.  Turning slowly back to the sound man, he muttered, “Never mind.” and, spinning around, began the tortuous journey back toward the front of the hall.

Well, were they working or weren’t they?  The sound technician wondered.  He was using a system which the designer claimed to be state of the art.  The brand new stereo mixer had been recently incorporated with the power amps and he had tested all of the other components himself as the band was preparing to play earlier in the day.  As he looked at the retreating back of the troublemaker, he slid the balance control again from left to right.  No, it was working perfectly.  The sound moved in a cool pattern as the slider made its side to side transit.  First blasting forth from the center as the balance control rested there a moment, it moved with liquidity to one side and slid in a wave over to the other.  What a cool effect!  How had they ever done events before this great stereo sound system?

As the sound continued to wash over him, he absent-mindedly noticed the fellow dropping back down into his place at the front right side of the auditorium.  In that instant, the realization of what was happening dawned on him.  The sound booth was located in the room more than halfway back from the stage.  The speakers were working perfectly to him because he was centered between them.  The fans around him heard exactly what he did and were likely pleased with the mix.  To the concert goers on either side and close up to the stage, however, the speakers were only working half of the time.  From their seats, they only heard the speakers directly in front of them.  When the sweep of the sound moved to the opposite side, all they knew was that the speakers weren’t working momentarily.  To them, there was something wrong with the equipment.

He stopped sliding the balance control and left it dead center for the rest of the concert.

Have you ever attended an event and later, hearing a review of it, wondered what event it was that the reviewer attended?  It happens to me frequently.  I hate a movie, but the critics think it was better than “Gone With The Wind.”  A music columnist pans a new artist’s album as “unoriginal and tired”, while I definitely heard “fresh and exciting”. Disparaging comments are made about a sermon and I wonder who said the things those people claim to have heard from the preacher’s mouth.  I certainly didn’t get that!  It would seem that perspective has a lot to do with what one sees and hears.

We spoke recently of ensemble and blending with others in the community.  I recognize that the reality of achieving harmony is not always as easy as one could wish.  Unlike those playing musical instruments, we can’t just push in or pull out a slide or two and then be careful to follow the markings in the music.  We may all be in one place, but we have certainly arrived here by disparate paths.  The events and environments of our past have shaped us and helped to form our perspectives.  If we wish to live in community, we must be able to see past our own personal territory and look into the surroundings of those with whom we wish to be in accord.  To quote a trite saying, we may just have to move out of our comfort zone.

The concert goer who was convinced that something was broken had to move from his place to be able to comprehend what was happening.  He may have been annoyed as he sat down again, but at least he understood that the equipment was functioning as it should.  The sound technician had to mentally put himself in the place of the patron to understand what the audience was hearing, and even though the equipment was functioning perfectly, he realized that his responsibility was to the crowd and he abandoned his demonstration of technical prowess and equipment superiority.  They both moved out of the place they were in to comprehend what the other was experiencing.

Much more could be said, but it would be extraneous.  Your minds have already grasped the lesson of the concert and will shortly be applying it to situations which I could not hope to think of.  I have a few of my own where application is waiting.

Sometimes walking in the shoes of someone else can take us to a place of revelation.   

Just be sure to give the shoes back when you’re done with them…

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..”
(James 1:19 NIV)

“Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
(Albert Einstein~German-born American physicist~1879-1955)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012 All Rights Reserved.

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