The audience always matters. But the topic is important as well.
A few years back I found myself in a conversation via text message. As much as I hate the medium for important things, it couldn’t be helped. We were both at work and circling a topic that didn’t need prying ears to concern themselves with.
Some people in your life you listen to no matter how hard it is to hear what they have to add. In this case I trust her so much to tell me the right thing that I gear myself up for what can be a disheartening conversation. Words not meant to hurt but obviously meant to instruct me from a completely different view point.
As the messages passed back and forth something still sticks in my mind. We were talking about the past, both with a negative spin on something unpleasant. I wasn’t looking for a show me yours and I’ll show you mine moment, but it sprung up anyhow.
Those moments when you freeze and spin around trying to find the right thing to say? Not any easier when it’s a text message. I doubt I would have had the right thing to say had we been sitting face to face across a table. The urge to get in my car and ask anyway completely took over. Had miles of pavement and that obvious work issue not been in the way, off I would have gone. I think?
Part of my education required me to take graduate level psychology classes. Very difficult to be a behavioral economist without them. The level of knowledge is dangerous because it isn’t enough. Not in the ways that matter. Seeing the signs and knowing how to deal with them can be confusing. Times when you can’t remain absent or detached are the ones that are the most important.
[This person was the third I called after my daughter died. My parents, my brother, her. That’s how much I trust her to say the right things!]
When it was mentioned that something in her past still carried forward into her present and her future, I wanted to just get there as fast as possible and listen. The explanation could have taken a few minutes or the rest of the day. Deeply personal or just a series of events that took a life of their own? I don’t know.
And that still worries me at times…
The last thing I openly stood on a table and shouted out was when we found out about the pregnancy. Right in the middle of someone’s birthday party I couldn’t help myself. The ex was not quite happy with that move, but lets call it an overly excited utterance! Yeah, Tom Cruise on a sofa for Oprah?
It’s easier for me to be in a small group. Two people talking, maybe three. Again the topic is very important to the number of people. The ability to express yourself and ask about others gets limited when their are too many voices. Drowned out in the opinions is not a good thing.
One of those inner voices sounds like my friend. Someday I hope to ask if everything is okay. But now the miles of pavement are significantly larger between us and I’m just not brave enough to call and ask how her day went.