I remember hiding behind the sofa listening in as my parents and their friends would have their after dinner conversations. It would go on for hours with lots of laughing as the conversations would shift from topic to topic. They seemed to be engaged in each other’s lives to the point they almost got the punchline of the story before the person talking would get there, but everyone listened intently as if it were the first time they’d ever heard it with the slightest glimmer of a smile hidden in their expressions as they nodded in agreement with whichever sage was imparting the information at the moment No one was in a hurry to end the conversation or felt the need to override the storyteller. They graciously listened and waited for their time to respond. Looking back I see it to be a beautifully un-orchestrated symphony completely played by ear. I long for that in my life now.
Somewhere in our fast paced world of high-tech communication techniques we’ve actually lost the art of having meaningful conversation. We approach our verbal communication they same we we do those limited character twitter post trying to squeeze the depth of meaning we feel into as few words as possible. In that process we loose the real connection that comes from all of the descriptive and explanatory words traditionally used in leisurely conversation. We’ve somehow removed the soul from our interactions; the things which make true connections and memories which pull people closer to one another.
I notice even with my children we’ve had to pull out conversation over dinner with a barrage of questions when asking about the experiences, thoughts and feelings they have had during the course of the day because when asked “how was your day” the route response is “good”. No further expression needed in their mind because for some reason with just one word we’re supposed to know what all that entails. After a few weeks of siting together to discuss our day over family dinner with the entire family present they’ve begun to come to the table prepared to talk so as to avoid the 3rd degree questions we’d fire their way.
I think if putting into practice the art of conversation within our personal communities would go pretty far in terms of cultivating happiness in us as a people.