Listen or Choose Loneliness

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(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JESSICA HANLEY/THE OBSERVER)

By BORONICA METALIAJ
Contributing Writer

We use words so loosely that they eventually lose meaning. Relationships. What do we make of them? I type “define relationship” into Google, the holy search engine, the answer to all questions and the diagnoser of all disease. “The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected.” I agree with the quantity specified, “two or more,” because the number of “concepts, objects, or people” is of main interest to me. I put aside my very romanticized idea of relationships and my hostility toward the treatment of even the broadest association between two people as a “relationship.”

Nonetheless, I am ecstatic to witness the world’s most popular search engine provide a definition in which the quantity required to form a relationship is clearly stated, as this quantity is one that seems to be unfathomable in many people’s understanding of how many it really takes to “tango.” They say it takes two, but apparently some believe they can tango alone. There seems to have emerged an extremely skewed definition of a “relationship,” more so the contribution of “two or more concepts, objects or people” required for the development of the noun. Perhaps my own definition is utterly ideal. No, actually, my definition is quite too naïve, quite too trusting of the idea of two people equally committed to a partnership, for which they are willing to hurt and cry, debate and disagree, until one of the two is brave enough to revoke another major flaw in the world, which we will call “pride,” and agree to disagree for the sake of compromise, for the sake of the relationship.

Compromise brings about certain inexplicable delights that could be described by an adjective synonymous to the word “beautiful,” without implications to physical characteristics. “Beautiful” fails to convey the delight of laughter, the ability to audibly enact contractions of the diaphragm, a sound that is almost impossible to emit without an open mouth and flashes of teeth—the facial expression we are sometimes forced to imitate in order to seem “happy.” We laugh when tickled or told a joke. Whether for a minute or an hour, those with a functioning diaphragm and respiratory system have had the advantage of feeling content, feeling full even on an empty stomach.  

Laughter is a simple example of what is generated by compromise. To agree to disagree means to compromise, and to compromise means to share laughs in between the cries brought about by a “relationship.” But in order to have compromise, “two or more” people must maintain wide open ears, as this would allow for another lacking ability, the ability to listen—the only ability that is entirely optional and rarely exercised. The ill-fated who were brought into the world without such an enhancement would give anything to hear ocean waves, music, or the voice of a loved one. Those of us who were blessed with it opt for negligence.

I advise you to listen while you can, because there will come a day when age deprives us of at least a fraction of our senses; to think before you speak, and only do so when the moment is right; to speak in the way you’d like to be spoken to, and to speak in a way that makes them listen. And those who still fail to listen have simply chosen loneliness.