Conversing All-Stars

1 09 2015

“Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.” ~ O. Henry

I just spent a weekend talking. Well, not just talking… I listened too! I also smiled and laughed. I asked questions, and answered some. I was communicating, and it was exhilarating.

phonechatThere has been lots of lamenting about the death of conversation caused by the proliferation of mobile technology, social media and other distractions. I’ve certainly beat that drum while observing a table full of people at a restaurant, heads buried in there iPhones. And truthfully, I’ve sometimes been guilty – see last month’s post. I have wondered about future generations lacking the skills necessary for basic communication, and I hope it isn’t too late to save them. I think that smartphone use proliferated quite rapidly, and etiquette simply didn’t have time to adjust. But all things are cyclical, and a rebound is coming. Conversation will be back in a big way… I know it!

This big talking weekend was a couple of days at the beach with longtime friends. My wife and I have tackled adulthood with Mark and his wife, Christine. Together with our group of friends we have celebrated weddings, welcomed our children and seen them grow, graduate and start families of their own. We’ve also mourned death of friends and family members. This is what good friends share. But like many friends, we get together infrequently… and certainly not for chunks of time like this weekend.

The setting was ripe, and distractions were minimal. We spent about nine hours over the two days just sitting on the sand. No one said that we couldn’t look at our phones, we just didn’t that much. We watched a football game on Saturday night, but listened to each other instead of the announcers. Then a movie after, with our running commentary being much funnier than the dialogue in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Danke Schoen, very much…

We touched on some lofty topics, and beat some straight into the ground. We made some serious headway planning our funerals. We discussed the upcoming Papal visit in Philadelphia and the power of Pope Francis’ blessings. (FYI, they go infinitely far out in whatever direction he flings them).

We discussed music, “our” music versus today’s. Their son and recent Drexel grad blinded us with science and migratory patterns of shore birds. We marvelled at the beach restoration project still going on in Sea Isle City, post Hurricane Sandy. We even waxed on politics, trying unsuccessfully to Trump each other. We also discussed the merits of the “everything” bagel (despite the above O. Henry quote), and how to brew the perfect cup of tea… it’s not as easy as you think!

We may have gossipped a little. Yes… it was you we were talking about!

ConverseOn Sunday morning I got up early – as usual – figuring I would go to the living room and read. Christine had the same idea… I found her enjoying a cup of coffee and her open book. We are both reading the new novel by Harper Lee, but neither of us cracked it open. Instead we discussed that story, her first novel, the characters, etc. That led us to grander topics like racism, and the preference of e-readers to actual paper books. It was a hour of great conversation and coffee… we talked about coffee too!!! Good craic, with a fine Irish lassie.

Needless to say, it was fine weekend… one I hope to repeat with these folks and many others. As much as possible. As a wise philosopher once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I have many distractions these days, so many balls in the air. More often than not, it’s a good idea to slow down the pace of your world and just talk. And listen. The setting doesn’t matter… just enjoy the company.