Listening, Finally

 
 
 

JUST WHEN WE THINK WE KNOW THE HEART OF ANOTHER,

WE FIND OUT THERE’S MORE TO LEARN

Scott Wilson

My wife Michelle loves Mary Chapin Carpenter. Last year, we put one of her albums in my car’s CD player and listened to some of it. It didn’t speak to me, I said as much, and Michelle never asked to listen to it again.

There the CD stayed, untouched, in my car’s player. It was sitting there two weeks ago when I drove past a billboard advertising an appearance by Carpenter with the St. Louis Symphony. It remained there as I drove past the billboard twice more and considered, guiltily, that Michelle has listened to jazz, my music of choice, every day for years.

I bought two tickets and told Michelle. “That’s my dream concert,” she replied, gaily.

So now I’m in Minneapolis with a rental car, a Bluetooth connection, and Mary Chapin Carpenter on the sound system. A song, “Come On, Come On,” is playing. I hear a great deal more in the music now.

There’s sadness, a sense of life’s impermanence, quiet yearning, and the hope of love.

Come on, come on
It’s getting late now
Come on, come on
Take my hand
Come on, come on
You just have to whisper
Come on, come on
I will understand

Long ago, Michelle and I agreed that I am the more emotional partner. Michelle is kind and sweet and still capable of childlike wonder, but she is careful with her pain, slow with her anger and mostly silent with her needs. I have to listen carefully for those things. They spoke to me a year ago when she handed me that CD, and I did not listen.

So here I am in my rental car, listening now – and beginning to understand that I don’t know my wife’s heart. There is a depth and beauty and dimension that I did not suspect.

I remind myself to pay attention.

I should tattoo that on my chest.

Scott Wilson is an appellate attorney practicing full time in Minnesota – while living in St. Louis, Missouri with the love of his life, Michelle. The father of two adult children (plus two adult stepchildren), Scott considers that he reached adulthood ten years ago at the age of 49. He’s actively interested in politics, ontology, the game of baseball, and further personal growth.