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MY BLOG: Every day for a year.
Day 176′ Monday Melancholy’
As I pulled up my chair to the large dining table where our guests had gathered, I took the time to survey the company I was to keep for the next few hours, old friends and colleagues of my other half, but strangers to me.
Being amongst a group of strangers is nothing new to me, something as a performer I have experienced over and over again. As the clatter of getting comfortable at the table began to die down and with pleasantries out of the way, I watched the decay into an awkward silence as people sat quietly, seemingly not knowing what to do next. If there is one thing in this life I know I am good at, it’s putting people at ease and bringing them out of their shell. But being good at something does not necessarily equate to enjoying it. The silence was deafening, and I could hear my inward weary sigh as I began to fill the void. I smiled at the chap opposite me and asked a question. His face lit up like an abandoned Christmas candle met with flame. He proceeded to answer my question in extraordinary detail, barely pausing for breath. I sat there, keeping his gaze, nodding my head as he enthusiastically filled in every conceivable blank. As he finally came to a pause on that answer, he looked at me like a starving puppy, beseeching me for more. As I studied his face, in my head, I saw Oliver Twist raising his bowl. “Please, sir, I want some more.” I felt other eyes upon me now, staring, waiting, wanting to be involved. And as always, I obliged. Around the table I went, getting people to talk about their lives, loves, interests, jobs, and family. With momentum finally in play, the conversation began to flow freely, unaided from me. Everyone was happy, the tinker of cutlery on plates drowned out by the multiple chatters being thrown about like confetti. My job done, I sat back quietly in my chair and finished my dinner. As the evening came to a close, it was apparent people had been buoyed by the outing. “We really must do this again, what a great night.” As we gathered in the car park saying our goodbyes, eyes turned to me, as the person I started the conversations with said, “Oh it was so lovely to meet you……um…..er…Sally? Was it? Oblivious to all but my other half, that no one had asked me anything, let alone my name, I just said, “sure, it was nice to meet you too.” I’ve learned not to take this personally because it isn’t. I have observed over the last few years how much people ‘don’t ask.’ Many will fob it off as being introverted, yet time and again, these same folk are more than happy to talk about anything if asked. I believe people are starved of any interest being shown in them and in return show no interest in others. I have an old friend with a running joke of how I’ve educated him on the art of “try asking a question.” I’ve had people sit at my dinner table consistently every week for nearly a year that know absolutely nothing about me, but I know everything about them. I’ve observed these same people talk at each other, but not with each other. The game seems to be, wait until the other person finishes so I can start talking again. Not much listening appears to be happening. On the journey home, hubby observed my drained state. Being a facilitator is exhausting. Part of the reason I stay with this blog is it’s one of the few places I have genuine conversations with people. Truthfully I expected it to peter out, as my face to face interactions with people would suggest no one would be interested. That in itself is an interesting fact that my fidgeting brain would love to know why. These days I tend to find I am content in my own company for much of the time, it’s far less isolating than being at a table where no one sees you as anything more than a fire starter. The art of great conversation, I grieve its loss.
Thanks for listening,