JENNY R. SUSSER, PH.D.

POWER & PERFORMANCE SPORT PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES

Lost Art Of Talking

Posted by on Sep 11, 2013

Lost Art Of Talking

“Keeping Alive The Big Questions”

I love this article! The lost art of actually talking with someone, a past time that is sadly “lost” these days. Technology has given us many gifts, but the costs, obvious to some of us, will disappear and be lost over time. The ability for language is something that distinguishes human beings from animals. Sure, animals communicate, but we do it differently and in a much more complicated fashion. I love to conversate (is that a word, because it sure sounds like one; humor me here). I love to listen to new ideas, or old ones with a new twist or color of passion never seen before. I love to learn from people. I love to listen to stories unravel and try to figure out the source, the cause, the meaning behind thoughts and what makes one person think one thing and another think the opposite. When I am in a conversation, I can almost feel my brain tingle as it works to listen, process, control my need to talk over someone because I’m sure my thoughts are better or more important, wonder how they got that opinion or position, and try to connect to what they are saying no matter how I feel about it.

I read this piece Saturday morning as I drank my coffee and watched two horses and riders wander out into the field behind my house. I am lucky to live on a horse farm and to be surround by the wonder and beauty this animal provides daily. A few minutes later, I got a frantic call that one rider had fallen off and could I get out there quickly! I grabbed my phone and ran. The horse had spooked and then he zigged while his rider zagged (that’s a technical way of saying she fell off). She was completely calm laying on the ground and simply said in a monotoned voice, “I think I broke my arm.” Wondering if she was a little in shock, I called for an ambulance and then we headed the 2.3 miles down the road to the hospital emergency room. If you are wondering how this story ties into this article about “big conversations”, well, we had several hours in the ER, and after she had stabilized physically and mentally, we simply talked. One other woman from the barn was there and the three of us had the most wonderful conversations. As we chatted, I thought about this article and how I was learning things about these two women I have known for years and see daily, but clearly know very little about. Of course, sitting there in the ER after having a scary accident, the talk initiated around the event and how lucky everyone was today. The practice of gratitude is something I work to employ daily in my life and that day, it was easy. She had a helmet on, landed on her arm not her head or her neck, and the horse had broken through three fences on his frantic way back to the barn yet had remained unharmed. All of it was lucky and we took this opportunity to process our fears by talking about our gratitude.

The conversation eventually relaxed and we moved on to funny stories about college, travel, marriage, children and grandchildren (for them), and as it always does with horse people, back around to horses. The richness of the day was truly surprising. I felt the same hint of camaraderie that I experienced over and over again during my swimming career. I always assumed it was because we trained so hard in the pool that we related so closely as teammates. I’m sure that was part of the mix, but now, in my wise old age (ha, ha), I see it as a deeper bond, set by a shared passion. It wasn’t that we just survived all our workouts in college but that we helped each other to survive while being so very passionate about our sport. And on Saturday, I felt that same expression of passion, this time for our horses. Horse people have this thing, this love for this amazing animal, and you either have it or you don’t. When you have it, I think you’re lucky. A daily dose of passion, love, relationship, excitement, striving for success, failing and then striving again, learning, and pushing yourself to grow on multiple levels truly is a gift.

More and more I find the richness in my life on a daily basis. I have a wonderful life full of blessings, opportunities to grow and contribute, and amazing people and animals. It’s funny though, because every time I hear myself saying how great it is or how grateful I am, I always follow that with a justification that it’s the little things that make the difference…like there should be something bigger in order to feel this great. It’s almost like I have to convince myself that it is okay to feel this way about my life. I wonder how many years I missed this daily dose of happiness because it just didn’t seem like enough? It really is true what they say about smelling the roses. It’s also true that having a big, challenging life can be extraordinary. It’s the balance that makes it work. Oddly enough, an accident proved an excellent balancer for us all that day.

4 Comments

  1. That was lovely – positive twist to a scary day.

    I can see why you are so good at what you do.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Carolyn

  2. Ironically, today I am going shopping and having lunch with my best friend, just so we can talk. One year when I wasn’t living by her, during a visit, we talked for 13 hrs!! We’re both Mexican Americans, and the trait of conversation is in our blood. Not the gift of gab, but the gift of sitting down, looking in one’s eyes and actually connecting with the individual. My Abuelita (Grandmother)taught my brother and I this skill at a very young age. We used to think it was terrible to have to go with her to socialize with all of her friends whenever we visited Mexico. As I got older with my own children, I realized no one takes the time to visit. If I don’t make the effort to call my friends or drop in for a visit, MONTHS can go by without verbal or visual communication. My Filippino neighbor back in VA, she and I would discuss how the art of conversation was lost. She too was perplexed how everyone was “So busy”.
    Thank you for your article. BTW- I’m one of those horse people. 🙂

  3. Really ironic timing and a great story on a topic that interests me. Looking at it from a different direction do you feel the master skill of conversation is in rapid decline due to the growing time the majority of us spend ‘online’?
    Extrapolate the idea and ponder the potential at how the demise of conversation will affect the ability to date and then the ability to form functional relationships. How that will affect our future generation(s). How we can effectively regenerate? Where is our gene pool headed?

    • Technology, like everything, is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it is a blessing, yet it has the power to be a rather powerful curse. Like all things in life, BALANCE is the key. I fear the decline of conversation, as you seem to do, and for the same reasons. It is at the essence of human nature to connect through conversation and story-telling, and without that, I can’t imagine what our communities will look like. It’s hard to tell how the next generation will craft it’s relationships based on the influence of technology and the lack of required “face time” it causes. At some point, there will be a course-correction, hopefully, it will create a greater capacity for relationship (ever the optimist). I bet they said the same thing about the telephone as it began to take over the world…

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