Yesterday, I had lunch with a local writers’ group. I enjoyed the food tremendously, not because it was a particularly sumptuous spread, rather, I was able to eat my carrot soup without saying a single word. Not by choice – I was unable to get a word in edgeways.
I had been invited to lunch to ‘catch-up’ and discuss our latest projects, but I was merely a pair of ears to listen to tales of new jobs, cars, homes and handbags (and for anyone who knows me, I’d rather eat dog poo than discuss handbags). Aren’t we here to discuss writing?
In just 12 minutes (I was watching the clock), I had learned that Janice’s husbands’s brother’s dog has worms; Ashley is scared of moths and Mary can’t stand the sight of her husband’s face. They, on the other hand, learned bugger all about me.
As I walked home, I wondered why most of the people I meet, talk at me, not to me. My conversations are less an exchange of thoughts, feelings and experiences – more an opportunity for people to bombard me with theirs. Of course, if I’m interviewing someone, bombard away. The greater the bombardment, the better.
Writing aside, people I meet seem compelled to bring me up to speed on the minute details of their lives thus far. They babble away and tell me all about the price of their shoes, the size of their bank balance, what they had for breakfast and what they found in their hoover bags. Yet, they never ask me about my life. I’m just there to listen.
This must be happening for a reason. Either, I look and sound like a total dullard (much like Mr Satellite Ears, above) and so, people believe I have nothing interesting to share. Or, I am too polite to tell people to shut the hell up and ask them to listen to me for a change. Maybe, it’s both.
It seems we now celebrate the gobby folk of the world. He who shouts loudest, gets what he desires! Quiet people are perceived as weak, instead of measured. Meek, instead of considered. And being loud and opinionated is encouraged. Come on. Speak up. Tell me what’s on your mind luv!
How many people do you know, actually listen to you when you meet up for coffee? I’m sad to say, I know only a handful. Most of the time, I’m a sounding board for people to boast to.
Why are people so busy shouting about what they have? Shouty, shouty, shout! Everybody is shouting ‘look at me, look at me!’ The world is such a noisy place. Can you imagine the serenity and humility of complete silence for once in a while. The joy of hearing the natural sounds around us.
Conversations are a joy but only if they’re reciprocal. Two ears, one mouth an’all that.