When was the last time you found yourself in the middle of a “smalltalk” conversation, wondering how the heck you got there, and how the heck you were going get out of it?
For me, it was earlier today.
I was at work, and I was talking about the weather with a customer. Sometimes the weather can be an in depth and stimulating topic of conversation, but today it was merely commentary on the sunshine and how it wasn’t raining like the weather network had predicted, and how much warmer it was today than this day last week and yesterday was a classic west coast winter day and blah blah blah.
When did we become so scared to talk to one another about the things we’re feeling in our hearts—the way our soul was stirred when we heard a song from the past, how our dream last night left us feeling confused and scared?
When did we start keeping everything on the surface?
What are we hiding from? Is it ourselves or others? Or both?
When did we become satisfied with the mundane?
When did we lose our sense of awe and wonder and adventure and passion in conversation?
Okay, I know, it’s not gone completely. These types on conversations still exist. And we always feel so alive after we’ve had a stimulating exchange with someone. So why do we so often revert back to the same old same old? Are we scared to show our true nature? Terrified to reveal our true colours? Is it the judgement of another that keeps the words from our hearts tucked neatly beneath our button up shirts?
Why are we wasting our precious time with one another exchanging strings of words that have such little impact on our lives?
Yes, I know it’s raining. Yes, I know it’s cold today. Yes, I see that it’s windy. Yes, I’m doing fine, and you?
I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if we took these moments that would normally be filled with mundane questions, answers and practical observations and replaced them with questions, statements and observations that landed somewhere a little deeper.
What if we took these moments that currently hold such little value, and turned them into moments that have the potential of impacting our lives to a great extent?
While time can be perceived as a complete illusion, we can’t deny that this moment absolutely does exist, so why not make the best of it? Why bother saving those soul stirring questions for when you’re lying tucked in bed with your love? Why not ask the woman at the grocery store what her deepest relationship desire is? Why not ask the man at the post office what movie character he most deeply connects with?
In each and every exchange with another human being, we have the opportunity to rock their world, knock their socks off and change their existence forever. But so often, we miss this precious opportunity because we get caught in the fear of our own judgement and our fear of having to be vulnerable with another human being, maybe even one we hardly know or have just encountered for the first time.
And so we play it safe. Sticking to questions and comments that are easy and unimportant, classic and polite. But no-one is winning in this situation. We’re all just staying trapped in our pretty little boxed in, self-made realities. B-O-R-I-N-G!
I know deeply in my heart, that we, as human beings in this day and age, are all longing for true, real, deep connection. It might terrify us as much as it excites us, but terrified or not, we all still want it.
And so, how can we cultivate this sense of connection in our everyday lives? We can make the commitment to ourselves, and to each other, to try our very best to break down the walls of separation by allowing ourselves to be open to new and unknown experiences in our daily interactions with each other.
We can explore new ideas and ask questions that we’ve never asked before. Yes, sometimes we might get a confused look from the other person, and sometimes we offend someone by inquiring too intimately into their lives. But then other times, we will be blessed with information that might actually change our lives in a beautiful way. We all have so much to share with one another, but most of the time we keep it tucked neatly away. What I’ve realized, though, is that we are being unfair by keeping these ideas and insights and intimate thoughts to ourselves.
If we want stronger, true connections, we have to be willing to create them.
How do we do this?
First, we must remember that we have the power at any given time to change the course of a conversation. We can steer a seemingly dull and uninspiring exchange in a whole new direction by simply shifting the gears in our own mind. We can shift from responding in the way we normally would, to responding in a way that we never have before. Maybe by taking the question or the conversation piece and looking at it from anther perspective.
The next time someone asks “How is your day going?” we could reply with an answer that talks about the energy that has been driving our actions today; “I’ve been so driven today by the forces of the natural world, it’s been difficult for me to be inside, my heart longs to be amidst the trees, and that’s where I’ll be going when I’m done here.” This answer has the potential to lead to an intimate and interesting conversation, and if it doesn’t happen naturally, you can throw an extraordinary question back at them to spark their imagination: “When was the last time you longed to dance in the rain, and what stopped you if you didn’t do it?”
The questions and answers are limitless. All it takes from us is a willingness to dive into our imagination and start speaking from our hearts as well as our minds.
If you’re wanting to explore this but feeling a bit stuck with where to start, here is a list of questions to keep in your back pocket (literally or figuratively) to help you on the way:
What song currently makes your heart sing with joy?
What word in the English language to you find the most challenging to understand the meaning of?
What inspired you to get out of bed and start your day today?
If you could have any artist paint at portrait of you, who would you choose? And why?
If a new constellation was discovered and you got to choose the name, what would you call it?
If your personality could be summed up in three colours, what would they be?
What mythical character do you most connect with?
Once you get started, the questions just keep presenting themselves, but first, the biggest step is to open to the courage that is already alive inside of you and let yourself be seen for everything that you are.
Be willing to see and explore all the greatness and peculiarities and unique qualities that everyone around you possess as well.
Let’s just all be done with this smalltalk bullsh*t and get some realness back into our exchanges.
I’m ready. Are you?
Author: Morgan Leigh Callison
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Rick & Brenda Beerhorst/Flickr