WRITING #5 Art of Listening: to one’s own voice, with a splash of another


My childhood was nearing its last lap-Senior year, West High School, and still no firm decision on what to do with this right brain — left brain dichotomy. My “right” was the creative, a builder, a bit of a dreamer, and to my “left” were friends were getting accepted to colleges. Following in the footsteps of an honor society older sister, then in her 5th year of Pharmacy School, and having a loving respect for my mother, the former teacher, I too, knew higher-ed was probably the socially acceptable and “smart” thing to do. That said, the pretty color covers of college catalogs all looked all the same. I poked around some area tech-schools wandering through their graphics, woodshop and architectural studios, searching for that in-the-gut “yeesss” this is my career track to a job. It never came.

“You might want to think about college, you don’t have to know your life’s plan right now.” That was the advice of my best friend Mike; Mr. Pete’s son. (my small, but faithful followers were introduced to Lincoln Junior High’s Mr. Pete in Reading #3.) His son Mike, was my best friend. Tied to the hip since 1st grade, he was the older brother I never had, sharing nuggets of wisdom, kind of like his dad, the gym teacher.

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked” — Mark Twain

Mike, or “PD” as the all the guys called him, wasn’t “artsy.” While I was in the shop class Annex, he was in the Main Building studying Government or Philosophy. But at the end of the day, when the 3:20 bell rang, we shared a deep, common interest in “thinking about stuff, as we walked the train tracks home after school. I suspect that “stuff” is what drives our human nature to respond. We creatives respond through poetic prose, strumming a G chord, or pushing one’s hand into soft clay. Those on other island may “think about stuff” through science, politics or serving a social need. That “stuff” I call conscientiousness; doing the right inner thing.

Sure, doing the right thing in terms of ethics or a consistent moral stance is being conscientious. But for me, doing the right thing is also listening to the inner voice of intuition, and in my case also listening to my best friend, “…you might want to think about college…” This was followed by several follow-up subsequent conversations. Never preachy, rather, humble and kind, I trusted Mike’s instincts and started to think seriously about a four-year institution.

“One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards”, A Manifesto for Introverts, “Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking;” Susan Cain

Being an off-the-chart Myers Briggs Introvert, I take a keen interest in what my friend Mike thinks. Peacefully charismatic, never one for the limelight “selfie” photo, my Butch Cassidy to this Sundance Kid, is an articulate thinker. When he speaks, I turn down the music, look past the chatter, and listen. What do Rosa Parks, Moses, and Dr. Seuss, have in common? All introverts-economical in choosing just the right words, and when to use them.

Swimming through a sea of what to do after high school, my discernment was cluttered with loud voices, and media-hype. So when life’s first major decision came knocking at my door, I was grateful for a best friend. A co-pilot can hold the mirror up, help us reflect and open the door to critical thinking. Yes of course, as an artist and navigating my own soul, ultimately, I have to trust myself, make choices, and move forward. But slowing down to consult with a trusted friend can shed light from unseen perspectives. So when it came time to leave my hometown, I listened to the quiet voice of my instincts, AND invited in the quiet voice of a friend. In the final hours, I decided a college campus was my next landing pad. Somehow, I had faith that a passion for shop class and a curiosity for the humanities would unfold in academia. Stay tuned.



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GREG MUELLER - Mueller Studio

GREG MUELLER - Mueller Studio

“UNDER THE HOOD”, countless hours under the welding helmet nurtures the raw and poetic artist story that is unfolding under Mueller’s “existential hood”