A friend approached me as I sat watching a soccer game and I immediately recognized her. It had been a long time since we had seen each other, so I raised my hand up to say ‘Hi’ and lightly waved, then spoke her name. She just kept walking. Hustling right on by, she didn’t budge or turn or flinch.
‘Welp,’ I thought. ‘That was weird. She totally ignored me.’ I wondered whether she had been offended by something I said or hurt that we hadn’t stayed in touch. I didn’t dwell on it, but it certainly struck me as weird.
Not long after, maybe 4 weeks or so, I happened to run into her again. This time her eyes met mine, and we carried on a conversation for a few minutes. At some point she pulled her right ear closer to my head and said, “I’m so sorry, I’m deaf in my right ear.”
Then the dots seemed to land over the Is and the crosses went across the Ts. It made sense now. Earlier she hadn’t even heard me; she didn’t ignore me!
This, as well as many other instances, have reinforced my belief that we’re ALL deaf. In our effort to hear, when we really can’t hear, we reach to fill in the story. We fill in other people’s stories with our suppositions. Those suppositions separate us and stunt our ability to cultivate connections.
Be comfortable not hearing, and don’t rush to suppose.
We’re all deaf, and that’s okay.