Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"How does it feel?" / Bob Dylan Revisited

This last weekend, with the Civil Rights Movement Music Celebration at the White House in mind, I went to a 3-hour introductory workshop on the subject of nonviolent communication, as developed and taught by Marshall Rosenberg. Although I don't usually attend workshops of any kind, a friend I respect gave me a free pass to this workshop, and I decided to use it.

What I understood from the workshop leader was that Marshall Rosenberg's nonviolent communication workshops have their roots in Gandhi's faith that major conflicts between nations and within nations can be addressed through nonviolent means. As I understood, Marshall Rosenberg proposes that nonviolent communication can be practiced on an interpersonal level by anyone who wishes to address conflict at the level of family, friends, marriage, workplace and local community.

The classic process of listening to someone's point of view and responding with compassionate communication, as presented in the workshop, is this:

OBSERVATION: "When you (see, hear, etc)_____________...

FEELING: "do you feel ___________________"...

NEED: "because you value______________?"...

The classic process of expressing one's point of view with compassionate communication is:

OBSERVATION: "When I (see, hear, think of) _______________..."

FEELING: "I feel _________________..."

NEED: "because I value ____________..."

The workshop leader acknowledged that using this prepared script could very well be counterproductive in a setting of unresolved conflict, and his handout contained a hilarious cartoon by Matt Groening that begins with two people sharing their feelings and ends with one of them saying:

"Thank you for sharing that. And I must reply that calling me a name-caller is a form of name-calling, you name-calling jerk."

It was explained by the workshop leader that, with practice, the classic script could be worded creatively and intuitively in addressing conflict.

Bob Dylan's question, "How does it feel?," struck me as compassionate communication when I first heard it when I was 14 years old. I didn't feel attacked. I felt that someone cared enough to ask how I felt. I didn't feel alone anymore. Over the years, I've heard Bob Dylan sing "Like a Rolling Stone" with wildly different nuances, and I understand that the same words can be sung with or without compassion and humility.

These days I hear Bob Dylan singing "How does it feel?" with a compassion and humility that he didn't have as young man.

What I took away from the workshop is that without compassion and humility, a person using a script for nonviolent communication verbatim can be a producer of alienation rather than harmony. Or, paraphrasing what a friend of mine said upon hearing that I was going to attend the workshop, "If you use that passive-aggressive script on me, I'll scream!"

Job update: I'm waiting for a phone call or email from the job recruiter so that a time can be arranged later this week for the interview with a medical transcription supervisor. That interview will determine whether or not I get the job.

It's a beautiful foggy afternoon here today, but here is an image of yesterday's late afternoon sunlit clouds:


gleaner said...

I never thought Dylan was asking how I felt in the song...I always took it as a somewhat cynical? question to some-one who once was full of pride and indifference.

I've just finished reading "Chronicles" which I enjoyed and felt it revealed alot about Dylan.

Good luck with the job Am.

am said...

gleaner -- Good to see a comment from you again. I enjoyed reading "Chronicles," too and especially enjoyed hearing an abridged CD version of it read by Sean Penn.

It was suggested to me at one time that Bob Dylan was asking himself, "How does it feel?," when he wrote "Like a Rolling Stone."
That he was chiding himself. That endeared him to me. I saw him as one of us, not above or below anyone.

While looking around for YouTube videos of "Like a Rolling Stone" for this post, I found this 1967 version:


Jimi Hendrix introduces the song by saying:

"And right now I'd like to dedicate this song to everybody here with hearts -- any kind of hearts -- and ears. It goes something like this."

It's a great song because it remains open to interpretation. For a long time now, I've thought that the question in this song is a Zen koan.

Thank you for the good wishes for possible job!

gleaner said...

Am, I too identified with him after reading the book and understood it when he said he hated being swept up into some sort of "voice of the people" and did all kind of obscure things to deflect attention away from himself when it got too much and he needed to protect his family.

I also thought it revealing and had a little laugh when he said truth was a "cruel horror of a joke" and that he was "gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth and what you heard depended on which side you were standing"....I can't understand any-one who says this book wasn't revealing of Bob Dylan.

I also got it that he ultimately loved the poetry of words, the manipulations etc. and that it was this and the feeling of words and not the meanings of the songs that was important.