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Living Life on the Ledge: Listening and Learning

Caption for photo: Photo courtesy ‘Amazing Nature’.  

We cannot thrive, grow or flourish if we fail to be aware of the different rhythms of Life. We can’t.

Living on the Ledge leads us to that awareness of the value of listening. Quite simply, listening is the bedrock for all human relations and connectedness. When we listen attentively to others, we learn. When we listen to our hearts we grow. When we listen to the Presence within, we flourish.

I was led to discover that my retirement had ushered in a new wave of being, living, enjoying life and loving others who are participants in life itself.

There is a different space, provided that I perceive it as somewhat paradoxical.

It is not about space increasing quantitatively but qualitatively. In this space there is a deeper comprehension of what time means and a greater appreciation of time as both space and freedom to BECOME and to just BE.


Perhaps, a bit of personal sharing will shed some light on these changes that occurred throughout my years of both becoming and being a teacher.

I entered the teaching profession – informally- at around almost 18 years – or edging close to 18.

My parents who lived abroad and who had left me at a very early age of around one year with my grandparents, requested that I joined them. They were leaving England and moving to Africa where my father was contracted to work as a civil engineer.

I refused. My life was here at home in my country, Trinidad.

My father was adamant. Join them or forget about continued financial support for further education. I refused.

I saw only one option in the light of this development- becoming a teacher.

I felt I should not depend on my elderly grandparents for this additional financial support, so I made my own decision.

I recalled the tremendous relief and freedom in simply choosing to do what I wanted to do. I was only 17yrs. at the time.

However, I went to my former primary school principal and offered to be a volunteer while I awaited being posted to a school when I applied. She accepted.

For 42 and a half years, I served as a primary school teacher. That service was deeply imbedded in the bedrock of my faith. My Catholic Faith. This was the faith that nurtured, nourished and sustained me.

Quite frankly, it was my Oxygen that I breathed to keep me both alive and lively.

The children in my classrooms were my living instruments into whom I poured all my energies.

I taught and they became my teachers.

Through them I acquired the art and skill of both learning to listen and listening to learn.

No teacher can acquire the skills for great teaching if you are not equally open to learning through attentive listening.

We become facilitators in fostering dialogue through diverse creative ways drawn from curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

We encourage our children to listen to others and to learn through that.

We teach our children through our own personal example, that listening is a fundamental aspect of respect. When we truly listen to others we reveal how deeply we respect them and ourselves as human beings.

One can never separate listening from learning, as one can never become a teacher if one is not willing to always remain a pupil or student.

Today, I am a retiree, still a teacher, always a pupil. I suspect that mentors like Fr. Michel De Verteuil, Thomas Merton and St. Francis of Assisi will always remain those solid faith companions who continue to teach me on this ledge called LIFE. I believe that many more beings have helped to sculpt who I am.

Yet, while the solid rock of my faith provides solidity that shapes my life, it is the Divine Loving Spirit that facilitates fluidity.

It is fluidity that creates those moments or seasons when we experience the ebbs but….life never stops flowing. Becoming and being, being through becoming.

That’s the flow.

Isn’t that refreshing?

By Dianne Diaz