Sunday, June 19, 2011

Being included

The other day a friend dropped by to say hello to me before the others arrived for a meeting at our house.  He told me about stuff going on at his work.  I asked a few questions to keep him going.  As he started to run out of stuff to say, I told a funny story - one that was tenuously related and that I'd told many times before.  He smiled and then the room fell silent.  I came up with another tenuously-related anecdote.  Painfully aware I wasn't 'keeping my end up' in the conversation, I tried to tell him about some stuff I'd been thinking about that I knew would interest him.  I didn't make a lot of sense, and made less sense as I went on.  I started to panic.  Finally, the last person showed up at the door and my friend was called through to his meeting.

I felt like crying.  I wanted to interact with my friend - to be included - but my fuddled head had made that impossible.

As I pondered it over the next few days, though, I realised something.  My fuddled head had made it impossible for me to communicate new and interesting ideas to my friend, but those worn old anecdotes had enabled me to be included: at least as far as I let them  They gave me something to say so the flow of conversation wasn't stalled.  Hopefully I'll judge them less harshly the next time they flow from my mouth :-)

I think I might also have stumbled upon why the stereotypical older person tells the same old stories again and again to anyone who'll listen...

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