Delusions of Grandeur • R.D. Rhyne

September 22, 2020

Sunday Letter: Shut Up and Listen

Some weeks work against you, and this past week worked me over. It’s an excuse and I’m offering it as one. Fact is, I didn’t make it four weeks before I missed one of these letters. No excuses.

After I missed writing over the weekend, I planned to take the week off. I said “I’ll do it next week”, and gave myself permission to take a cheat week.

… and then I decided against it. I have something to say to my fellow middle-aged, white nerds.

A friend shared a hilarious TikTok video, which they found on Twitter. Go watch it, if you haven’t already. I laughed out loud. Actually laughed. Out loud.

Then I shared it with friends and family. And because it’s Twitter, someone else shared the inevitable reply. There’s always a reply.

And it was, of course, from a middle-aged, white nerd.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been—once again—reminded that I talk too much. I talk, when I should be listening. And when I do listen, I talk before I’ve heard what was said.

I hate this about myself. I want to stop. I try to stop. But I don’t.

This video has been around for years. I’ve watched it over and over. I’ve read think pieces that attempt to explain, so I have an idea of what I should understand from it. But if I’m truthful, I don’t understand it. And that bothers me, I want to understand.

All too often I’ll respond to someone by attempting to figure out or fix their problem. I want to help people, even feel compelled to do it. But not everyone talking about their problems is asking for help. Nor are they necessarily looking for me to solve their issue.

I see the problem before the person.

In principle, I understand how to be a better listener. And yet, I still suck at it.

When I watch this reply to the funny TikTok video, I see myself. It reduces a funny, lighthearted video to another person with a problem to solve.

Fellow middle-aged, white dudes—for fuck’s sake—take a breath, don’t rush to explain.

Shut-up and listen.