When I was in the middle school I used to car pool with my cousins and everyday, as soon as I got even half of my bottom comfortable on the car seat, I would start with — “You know what happened today?” I had to blurt out everything. People said I had a small tummy, I couldn’t keep things inside. It would be stories about a girl putting maggi on someone’s head, Shirley throwing mud at my water bottle or Mrs. Christina aiming chalks on our forehead. Random. I knew my fellow passengers were not interested and that didn’t discourage me one bit. I loved talking; you won’t sense that if you’re a new person to me. If you know me, you’ll know I cannot seal my lips and my thoughts need to be transformed to words and given a direction.
From a talkative child to learning that silence is a good space sometimes; I still think conversations and language shape humans. Why do we humans have such a profound way of communicating and getting our information across to each other? No other living species have this power of understanding, memorizing and transferring information. We have evolved to the extent where we can talk to millions by just agressively typing through our phones.
I recently tried interacting on an app called Bumble! What? You’re judging me? I love a good insight or two. Conversations are the only way you can share anything and they lead to much learning. I didn’t meet too many interesting people on this though; it’s a phone application at the end of the day and I’m trying to cut my screen time. Honestly, an app is not the only place to find interesting people or mind-boggling conversations. I deleted it after two weeks. I’m sick of using gadgets, I could wrap my phone in newspaper and throw it in the sea, only it wont degrade.
Wait! Are you reading this with people around you? I suggest you stop reading and get on with your parley. I see myself guilty too. Sometimes when I’m using my phone and suddenly I look up to find, I have let someone feel less important than a gadget. Eye contact is the single most important body language that shows you’re interested in a conversation. No! Not the creepy glue-eyed staring. The look-up-from-your-f-ing-phone eye contact. I miss the car-pool days where no one had phones and getting heard was not even a worry.
Sometimes I’m in a conversation which I want to leave. Like me, if you’re giving him/her the idea that you’re listening, popping your bubble— you’re lying to them. It’s not being ‘courteous’. The least you can do is politely leave the dialogue by excusing yourself. We have so many preferences in life but I see very few people have preferred conversations. Rambling on about your husbands, gossiping about barbaric loudmouths on some television coffee shows, interest in how your neighbour’s grandchild got into trouble, news feed on insignificant individuals leaving the gym in sponsored fitness wear, and the likes. Do we ever use the weighing scale to value our conversations? The judgement in our courts need to be just and true; what about the judgement of our conversations? Are you calling yourself in the dock for the choice of your words?
So conversations need to have direction. ‘What questions you ask’, ‘how you answer the questions posed on you?’, ‘what you choose to let pass’, ‘how you gauge the intension of the speaker and how you subtly get your intentions across’- these questions compass the talk. You can’t and shouldn’t be too mindful all the time but if you be a little conscious it helps in keeping the coasts clear of any unwanted boats.
If you know me for a long time you’ll know I’m not that car-pooling person anymore. I do have moments of that inner child but I don’t feel the need to keep yammering. Let silence do the talking and in between add some words. The funnier the words the better.
We can have a conversation with ourselves and that’s the most important conversation of all. I was in my room once revolving on the wheely three sixty degree chair, my favourite thing to do while studying. My sister came and paused at the door. I didn’t seem to notice her, but she was observing me having an intense conversation with myself. After a good actual-Maggi-minutes she burst out laughing. I learnt that not everyone talk to themselves. Please sit down alone once in a while and have a conversation out loud. Look into the mirror and say Hi! Write letters to yourself- I just did on this website- https://www.futureme.org/letters/public. Journal in locked notes. It will all make your words thoughtful and then every conversation you have will change your life.