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Conversations With My Dog – Did You Really Mean to Say That?
A few years ago, Zeus mysteriously materialized in my life. He is a very complex and wise dog with a serious attitude and irreverent attitude. However, he is the most highly evolved creature I have ever encountered. His great joy is turning my world (and yours) inside out, turning it upside down with the spiritual purpose of revealing forgotten knowledge. For example:
There are very few restaurants in Los Angeles that serve both humans and dogs, even reincarnated dogs from other dimensions to help Earth’s inhabitants overcome their greatest challenges. However, a few great West Hollywood eateries are exceptions to the rule. They welcomed us with open arms when we sat down at their table outside. Very European. One day I was drinking my second cappuccino and perusing the crossword puzzle in the morning paper when I noticed Zeus mumbling incoherently.
“What in God’s name are you talking about?” I asked.
“Keeps score,” was his enigmatic reply.
I put down my pen. After living with this extraordinary dog for five years, I knew when my next lesson would be. “Keeping score of what?” I asked obediently.
This is wonderful, thought Zeus. “I’ve been watching it since I first came to California, and it rarely changes unless it’s around a big event like the Oscars, the Super Bowl, or the last episode of a TV show.”
“Would you stop talking in circles and explain what this is?”
“Why do people bother talking to each other?” Zeus asked, explaining nothing.
“To convey information about things,” I replied.
“You want!” he replied. “This happens more than 30 percent of the time. Most of what people say is to make themselves seem more interesting, intelligent, and important—the three selves of the lower ego.”
“What are you saying?” I asked. “People say what’s on their mind at the time. So what?”
“So everything!” said Zeus. “Did you know that the size of a goldfish is determined by the size of the bowl it holds?”
“I think you’ve smelled too many hydrants. Are you out?”
“It’s natural height, kid. Stop being so thick and ride it. You might learn a thing or two. In a small tank, a goldfish will only grow a few inches long. Take it to a large aquarium and it will double or triple in size. The same goldfish put in a large pond, it will grow to a foot! The same is true for humans. Your goldfish bowl is a matter of thoughts and words. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt. “Great minds discuss ideas; men of average intelligence discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
– And did you listen to the conversation?
“What else is there to do when my leash is tied to the leg of the table? Honestly, 90 percent of what I listen to is reruns of D-rated sitcoms. Every now and then there’s a little gem in there, like a gold nugget in a pile of sand. The content doesn’t really interest me; I just keep the overall category.”
– Do you think that 30 percent came from him? I asked.
“Yes. If you’re into statistics, more than two-thirds of speech is gossip. A parade of pronouns like I, you, he, she, we, they said or did. The following categories fall into the related category. About 25 percent. Most revolves around business, sports, entertainment, current events, or things people want to receive. My latest research space is about sharing ideas and exploring. The difference is like moving from a small bowl to an aquarium to an ocean.
“It’s something you never notice. When two people talk, they create a dynamic field of pure potential between them. It’s like a perfectly tuned Steinway ready to respond to the performer’s choices: Stick, Take Me to the Ball, or a Mozart concerto. Such wonderful music. “Why waste the opportunity to explore all the possibilities of the instrument? Why be stuck in one octave and hit the same five black keys over and over again?”
Surprised by Zeus’ last question, I turned my attention to the other diners at the table. He was absolutely right. Most were caught up in the animated speech for the pronoun parade. “But what’s wrong with talking about people? It doesn’t have to be gossip, does it?”
“In theory, no,” Zeus scoffed. “But research shows otherwise. It’s not the topic that matters; it’s the purpose of the conversation that really matters. If it’s just social chat, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Like playing with two fingers instead of a stick. To do something more meaningful.” Gossip seems harmless, but it’s not. Gossip is shallow, and it comes at a high price.”
“Why do you say that?”
“A one-inch fish thinks he’s a champion if he only knows a six-inch bowl.”
“You mean there’s a big fish in a small pond?”
“You meet a lot of people like that, especially in this town,” Zeus said, needing self-importance and recognition. It’s always fun to hear people who seem positive about what they think they know. They resist moving to a larger cup because it might threaten their credibility.
My child, in order to overcome this illusion, you will have to risk giving up every now and then. Conversations about people and events also provide perfect opportunities. Instead of listening to the words, be very interested in what lies beneath them.
Next time you’re in a conversation, try this: Check out the five journalistic W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Gossip quickly fills the top four, but the “why” takes any discussion to a deeper level. Curiosity always asks why. Why is he saying this? Why is he reacting like this? Look for the hidden ideas of everyone in the conversation, especially your own. Once you’ve done that, lift it up a bit. Go beyond the importance of what is being said and notice the patterns of energy flowing between the participants. If you can get past the judgment, you’ll soon see archetypes—universal constructs—that humans use to overcome their self-imposed fears.
Words are like dynamic viruses that search your mind for host sites. They easily become attached to preconceived ideas and beliefs, and then you begin to evaluate instead of listening. If you find yourself processing your response well before the other person has finished speaking, know that you’re hooked.
It doesn’t take long to master the art of listening to a goldfish bowl conversation from an aquarium or ocean perspective. And in the process, it gives your little fish a unique opportunity to grow.
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