Recently I watched the film, Hector and the Search for Happiness, about a psychiatrist who feels a bit lost in the mechanics of his work and that he’s not providing a good service to his clients. Hector, the psychiatrist, decides that he needs to mix things up a bit and suddenly dashes off on a trip of unknown length around the world to see what makes people happy. When traveling from Africa to Los Angeles one of the passengers, Jumbala, is in desperate need for medical attention due to recent brain surgery and Hector is the only doctor aboard so he takes care of her for the remainder of the flight. He sits and listens to her story and they both realize that this will be the last time she visits her sister. Off the plane, as Hector and her depart they share a brief conversation.
Hector: “Are you going to be OK?
Jumbala: “I’m not afraid Hector. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. You have a real talent you know.”
Hector: “Oh, it’s not really my field.”
Jumbala: “No, you misunderstand. Listening is loving.”
This was a pivotal moment for Hector as it starts to dawn on him how much he could truly help his clients if he listened with all of his being, all of his heart. I found this to be a profound moment of the film, a beautiful realization on the part of the filmmakers. The concept of listening is loving provides countless insight into human experience and is one of the purest art forms we can practice. Listening mindfully to yourself, to others, to the world, and to the universe, are to participate in accordance with the true nature of things, to hear them as they are and to ultimately love them as they are. In a world full of interruptions and distractions, deep, genuine listening is a rare art, one that needs much nurturing and greater presence from the broader public.
It is quite easy to hang our opinion on every person, story, and thing that passes through our personal space as we are often dismissing their history and quickly concluding that it is irrelevant to the fast branding techniques which often speed us through the bustle of this modern high-tech life. Nature does not produce fruit at such a pace – it slowly and surely introduces a fully ripened product. It is a reminder that there is a balance between things, that much of life is more suited to a development unto its own and not to an instituted pace. Since watching the movie, the phrase “listening is loving” returns to me often and fills me with presence, renewing concepts of stillness and a gentleness toward life and all things great and small that exist within it. Once we practice listening it becomes easier and enjoyable. People whole-heartedly appreciate being heard and both storyteller and story-listener can feel a full reward of the story.
Wishing us all open ears so as to let the many stories surrounding us to become more full and clear as they develop at their own pace.
More info about, Hector and the Search for Happiness: