To Listen and Be Listened To

“I’m never good enough…”
Says one.
“Why does he hate me?”
Says another.
“How come I can’t be in a stable relationship?”
Says another still.

I’ve heard countless other things
that seem too innumerable even for me to recall.

I’ve been the listening ear
of my friends, classmates,
colleagues, students,
supervisors, subordinates.

I’ve been, and still am,
their confidant, their secret keeper.

I’ve heard stories, countless stories
of forbidden love and desperation,
desire and anger,
hatred and jealousy.

All of the things I’ve heard, I still keep
And will continue to keep until I reach the grave.

People have broken down in front of me,
and I have seen their weaknesses,
and they do so with complete confidence
because I promise them that I will be their stronghold…

…and yet none of them has become my stronghold in return.

None of them has been my refuge.

This makes me wonder: Am I even worth to other people?
Do people consider me as someone whom they value,
or am I just an adviser to them?

Yes, I have met a lot of people,
but these people only remember me in times of dire need,
when they need my “sage advice”.

Am I just that, a mere consular of truth?
Do people see me like that?
Do I see people like that?

I want to believe, deeply believe
that people will make time for me when I am in need.
I want to believe, firmly believe
that people would treat me equally
as much as I have treated them:
Clearing my schedule on a weekday night
just so I can console a heart-broken friend;
Setting an hour for a quick chat
to guide a confused colleague;
Or listening with my entire being
as a loved one share to me
her most unfortunate predicament.

I try to listen to these people as they talk:
I remove all distractions,
gaze deep into their eyes
and imagine how their situation played inside my head.

For a moment, just a fleeting moment
I choose to become them,
so that I may answer the burning question:
“If I was in their shoes, what would have I done?”

But sometimes I too need their solace.
I too need their advice.
I too need them to listen.
For like them, I too am human.

And most of the times
people are so caught up in their own problems,
that they no longer have the time
to talk about the things that interest me:

How the full moon shines every end of the month or so;
How life is both a game and an obligation;
How true beauty can be seen even in the most distressing of times.

Maybe I’ve just been spending my head on the clouds for such a long time
That I’ve been told to come back down
and focus on what lies ahead.

But my Inner Voice compels me otherwise,
And I am, as always, caught between two crossroads
And, at the same time, Alone
to make the decision which road to take.

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