Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Art of Conversation

It can happen any place in the world. Perhaps in a pub in Ireland, England or Scotland with a pint of Ale. It can be a quiet intimate sharing of ideas or a lively exchange of opinions and attitudes.

It can be in a Paris cafĂ© with a tiny cup of strong black espresso, meant to be sipped for hours on end. But it’s more than just conversation. It is the sharing of ideas and facts and history handed down between generations and friends.

West Africa has its griot or storyteller.  This is the historian for the people. People would gather regularly around the griot and they would pass down the stories, histories and customs of the village communities.

Back in the day, families went out on Sunday afternoon to visit other families for conversation and coffee. Intellectuals, bohemians, and the like had their salon. Children sat around the campfire at night and told stories. I’ve often talked in less than stellar words about the ‘old men at the coffee shop’ who seldom listen and often talk mindlessly.

The military has its bullshit and bravado sessions. Workers have their shop talk and techies talk code. Conversations come in every shape, form, configuration, and stated purpose. It can be two friends sharing, lovers intimate cooing and delightful banter about nothing in particular.

It started for me about two years ago with six friends and associates I simply wanted to talk to. The pandemic was raging and close contact was fast becoming a thing of the past. I still wanted to meet and greet and share ideas so I came up with the idea of a C & C; a coffee and chat session. It was always outdoors and usually first thing in the morning before our regular lives took ahold of our day.

Then it grew last year with eight and now ten folks whom I meet up with to chat about anything and everything. It’s neither formal nor structured.  Some are only once or twice a summer while others are much more frequently. But they all bring something different to the table.

Different folks, different backgrounds, different perspectives. We’ve managed to avoid talking about politics unless our views are in close alignment. Even then I’d rather talk about something fun, enjoyable, stimulating, thought-provoking or satisfying.

My friend Bob, in California, loves to talk about his current writing projects and me about mine. We’ve found that our sharing critiques are really helpful in bringing a fresh perspective to any current project of ours. My friends back home bring a plethora of similar life experiences to our vernacular mix.

Not surprisingly, there’s been a weeding out process over time. Some of those folks have fallen by the wayside, busy with other aspects of their lives. The ones that remain continue to bring new visions, new challenges and new reasons for getting out of bed each morning.

It may have taken me a lifetime to find pleasure and great value in cerebral discourse and exchange but I’ve got it now…and it’s a hoot.

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