i myself am constantly interested in what appears to be skills on the brink of extinction. fewer and fewer folks are caring for the land, raising and preserving foods, working with wood or wool, rendering lard or making cheese. these are the very things that fill most of my days. alas, lately, i have been pondering another of my favorite skills and it’s possible demise: the art of conversation.
i have to admit i am fairly biased regarding this the topic. i am solidly in favor of face to face, heart to heart, over the top, conversation. i’m a talker, always have been. i can remember long ago in elementary school, i had a chronic behavioral situation. each and every report card was filled out the same way: the highest marks in all subjects and the ever present comment “talks too much in class”. my parents tried everything, but the one i remember most is the two pictures. drawn by yours truly, there was one of the full wide open mouth and the other of half mouth, the closed mouth. each morning i was to wake and look at that half mouth. i was to imagine myself silent in the classroom. i was to carry that image with me to school where surely it would stop my chatter.
before i continue with this thought, i want to assure you i am not glamorizing check marks on your report cards or encouraging incessant chatter. these are not my proudest moments, i am however prepared to take a solid stand in defense of the all important, the less and less frequent, the one and only, the conversation.
seems with the advent of the cell phone (which enabled us to talk more surely but spend less time in conversation, perhaps), the rapid move to the smart phone, and the all encompassing replacement of the voice with the now pervasive text, the good old fashioned talk grew less and less frequent. how often have you witnessed groups of people together, in a cafe or restaurant, in their own living room for goodness sake, all on their own hand held device? i personally have seen this often enough to be a bit scared. frightened that in the presence of the screen someone might just forget to look at their loved one across the table or seated next to them on the couch.
to me this feels like an exercise in bring present. this is a topic we have been exploring in this space and i hope my thoughts add texture to your own attempts at remaining present: living as much as we can, in the now. the screen pulls us away. i urge you to put down the phones, turn off the tablet and simply be with a dear one today. whether that be your mate or your child, your friend or a lovely co worker. turn off technology and tune on humanity.
for me it is only the most sincere hope that when next we sit across from each other, we will delve right into a lovely conversation. if you are an old friend, we will quickly swap memories and stories of all that has happened in the years gone by. if you are a new acquaintance, we will share ideas and hopes and musings and get to know each other through words and the nuances of our face and body movements. either way, we will solve the problems of the world over a cup of coffee. don’t forget, a good conversation is a balm for the soul and this can not be replaced with anything technology can offer.