"Come. We must go deeper, with no justice and no jokes." Michael Ondaatje
Someone said this to me in a mail recently:"It's kinda strange when I think that I have only met you once - and yet I know you, in ways that matter, more than I know some of my closest friends.:) "
In the park the other day, in the lazy meandering funny-serious crazy-deep conversations that seem to happen only when lying down under trees, where the silences are punctuated by birdsong, someone said that he didn't like stories about unicorns, in the context of a Murakami novel. And I asked why and he said "Unicorns are not my thing."
And then we all laughed and did a round of "So what's your thing?". What are the things that most define you. What you most value. What you stand for. What has been a constant in your life. Single word answers. It made us think though it started out as as joke. It wasn't that easy. We don't usually stand apart from ourselves and think about this.
And then we wondered - do the people who are "close to us" know that these are our "things"? Would they get the answers right if someone asked them? Is that why some relationships disappoint us? And others feel like "home" though we know so little about what those people do for a living?
The standard "getting-to-know" questions give society a framework within which to place us, I guess.
Where do you work?
Where do you come from?
Are you married? Do you have children?
What does your spouse do?
After that the conversations tend to be about things you do, places you went to, the travails of city life, your opinions about everything under the sun etc etc. Rarely about who you are, and who you are evolving to be, and your struggles between them.The bigger the group, the more shallow the conversation. The one-to-ones, the small groups, sometimes go deep.
Some of the best conversations I have had have been where the questions above did not figure, or did not matter. Not having been led into that box, people felt free to talk about what they are beyond all this, the core of who they are, which is not defined by spouses, children, parents, jobs.
Does a general dissatisfaction with life have to do with an unfulfilled need to be understood? Do we feel more real, more at peace, when we are able to communicate who we are? Listen me into being.
Each individual, a deep well we rarely look into. So full of stories. All waiting to be told.
Who are you? What's your thing?