Listening could be your most valuable skill as an author.
I worked in the airport industry for ten years. It was a terrific learning experience. Of course it was interesting to learn more about security and how things are done to comply with all the necessary hurdles in that environment. It was fun to watch the passengers – the children, the parents, the elderly, the business traveler, the family vacationers, etc.
But what I didn’t expect was meeting my colleagues from different parts of the world. A significant number of my colleagues were refugees. The stories they told me about their experiences left me cold. I’ve never worried about the military breaking into my home, shooting my husband, and taking my children. I’ve never huddled on the floor to hide from bullets fired from an assault rifle.
One common thread each of them made clear: they love the United States of America. One woman told me that she will often wake up from a nightmare of gunfire and helplessness. After she realizes she is in the U.S., she calms right down. She told me she is moved to tears because she is so thankful. One time she was out of the country and was catching a flight back to the U.S. – her home. When she saw the U.S. flag on the jet she was booked on, she started to cry because she loves the United States so much and she couldn’t wait to get home.
I’m a member of another group that is different than I am in terms of outlook on life and experiences. However, we have a lot in common too. When I bring up problems I may be having or hurdles I must overcome, I am given so much support and sincere help that it is absolutely heartwarming. And in our meetings, I love listening to the distinctive viewpoints and perspectives.
It makes me think about what I am gaining. I attain new insights. In the future, it will help me create fictional characters in my writing. And it makes the quilt of my life richer, resonating with different colors of fabrics and threads that would not be there otherwise.
What a magnificent reward for just closing my mouth and listening!