Urban human-nature resonance for sustainability transformation


The unavailability of the own voice.
What does Amos really want to "say"?

To engage in a resonant relation with another entity may it be another human being, an animal or an object, Rosa points out that oneself has to acknowledge, see and most of all listen to the opposites own voice. Thereby, said voice also holds unavailability as another prerequisite of experiencing resonant moments or relations. And I was thinking, how does this come together? So one major contradiction in that sense is that at the one hand I should be able to listen to this other voice but on the other hand I should still acknowledge that I might not be able to understand and grasp what my opposite wants to say. In that regard, the usage of words like speaking or saying makes it even more difficult to fully engage with any thinkable other entity since those concepts of actions are primarily forms of interactions between people. This consideration does further imply that on the one hand the appearance and with this the necessary form of perception of an own voice always differs and that on the other hand one has to be careful not to impose one's understanding of one's own voice on the other entity in relation.

How to grasp the own voice of another entity who speaks so differently?

I have been thinking about this contradiction quite a lot especially in the interaction and relation with Amos, a dog I am sharing my life and home with. It hit me during one of our walks that I cannot ever be really sure to understand what he might want to "say", what his needs are and what he wants to do. I catch myself attributing him human qualities, understanding his actions in certain ways and forms of emotions towards his environment and towards me. But I can never be really sure and then again after four years of living together I am quite confident in certain interpretations of his actions. I guess the same applies to any other form of relation even between people and even when it comes to understanding my own voice. Can I always be certain that a human counterpart will say what her own voice wants to say? Can I even be certain that I generously listen to my own voice and that my interpretation of it is always "right"? Most certainly not and that is probably what the unavailability of another own voice and of my own voice can imply. That is probably what makes the start of a resonant relation.

Thus, the recognition of failing to understand my counterpart's own voice but to remain open and try to come again into relation makes resonant moments and in the long run resonant relations possible. Gaining experiences, learning about the other entity are steps towards understanding and listening to another voice. For instance, there is a lot of information out there on how dogs behave especially in regard to their body language being the most important tool of them to communicate with their surroundings. Learning about those facts and trying to recognize them in Amos´ behavior was and still is a key part of our relation. There are calming signals such as for instance the mouth or nose licking, yawning, looking away, walking a big arch and by that showing the sight of the body, even blinking which shows me that Amos might want to avoid conflict, that he wants to calm himself. In certain situations, those actions will give me a hint on what Amos might want to say to me.


What body language can tell us.

And then there are parts of communication, which just grow over time. When I cuddle him, and he enjoys it very much it sounds like he is growling at me which I could not differentiate at the beginning of our relation at all. When he really needs to go outside, he approaches me and runs to the door and whines. Sometimes he nips on his full bowl of water and afterwards demonstratively looks at me. At the beginning I had no clue what he might want to say by that. It turned out he is just very picky with his water so after I changed the entire bowl he emptied it completely. Now I know. But what I have learned to kind of read in his body language the most, is the way, he interacts with positioning his big bat-like ears. How he folds back his ears in certain degrees shows me whether he is angry or scared. How he lets them fall to the side looking like a little yoda shows me, he is deeply relaxed and calm. When he is in contact with other dogs (which is always difficult for him) I see how he grows tall, how his ears are pointing straight up, how his tail is nervously twitching and how the fur on his back is lining up.

A secure and calm resonant relation.

Those are the small things, which you just learn over time, may it be with a dog or a friend. And we did struggle a lot at the beginning of our journey and we still do. There are also past experiences, especially with rescued dogs, which you just do not know about. So I got bitten in the beginning and I was not allowed to pet him in certain positions, he did not naturally seek for body contact and he did not listen to a single thing I had to say to him (obviously because I also was not able to listen to him at that time). But by attending to his needs, I listen to his own voice, I take care of him and with the time I also gained the feeling that he cares for me. When I am feeling sad, he lies next to me. When I am sick, he lies next to me. When I come home, he immediately wants to have body contact. He lies next to me or gives me his paw or gives me a shy “kiss”. So I feel like he does hear my own voice living the concept of resonance in his own way. So coming back to the contradiction laid out at the beginning of this essay I think it is kind of a necessity to truly hear and acknowledge the unavailability of another own voice. With those relational learning processes and experiences, we come closer together and resonant moments become resonant relations.

Author: Mabel Killinger

If you have any comments or question on the essay, feel warmly invited to contact the author (m.killingerioer@ioer.de).



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