Sunday, December 30, 2018

Small talk

'How would you like to change yourself?' is the topic for our Quaker newsletter this issue, and we are each supposed to send a contribution of any kind - serious or humorous, shallow or deep  - to the editor. I am thinking about that this morning. 

Apart from the obvious things like wanting the figure and style of Audrey Hepburn, the sax-playing talent of Ben Webster, and the writing ability of Helen Dunmore or Nora Ephron, I would like the ability to make small talk. 

I can't do it, and it's such a useful social skill to have. It amazes me that Dave as an aspie is so much better at it than I am. He can talk small with the best of them. Why is that? He is generally more talkative than I am but I don't think that's it. He is just very good at 'one-stroke' relationships. I find them unsatisfying and have a tendency to always want to go deeper. That's part of my problem, but not all of it. I just can't think of things to say about superficial trivia. Maybe that's not what small talk is. Any thoughts? 

Anyway, in the pursuit of other ideas about how I want to change, I read through all my screenshots of quotes that I have on the iPad and came across two quotes that I've shared with you before. They are not specifically on theme, but at a time when the world appears to be falling apart and I feel powerless to do anything about it, they are encouraging.

Footpath from Burtersett to Hawes
photo by Rosemary Mann

The second quote is from Andrew Boyd:

You are faced with a stark choice: do you dedicate yourself to an impossible cause? or do you look after your own, making do as best you can?
The choice is clear: You must dedicate yourself to an impossible cause. Why? Because we are all incurable. Because solidarity is a form of tenderness. Because the simple act of caring for the world is itself a victory. Take a stand – not because it will lead to anything, but because it is the right thing to do. We never know what can or can’t be done; only what must be done. Let us do it.

And pursuing this theme of tenderness, I found a report about the Pope speaking at a TED conference last year, in which he said: “Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility.”

This concept of tenderness brought me to this quote from the early Quaker, Isaac Penington, which I have so often found helpful:

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.
Isaac Penington, 1667


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, Sue! Just what I needed to hear, in this moment, in my life. Thank you for sharing such great reminders, encouragement. These days I am only able to do the "little things" and it helps for someone to acknowledge that they are important. As for small talk, you and I are two peas in a pod, I am incapable, completely. I want to engage in what I consider meaningful exchange of parts of our lives, which doesn't make me a wonderful party guest, unless I find like-minded souls.

Sue Hepworth said...

I’m so glad you found the quotes helpful. I often come back to them for encouragement.

marmee said...

Yes I agree, the quotes are worth carrying into the new year for sustenance and guidance. I can do a bit of small talk but am most comfortable at a somewhat deeper level. And I know I sometimes scare people a bit with a deep dive! Wishing us all well for this coming year. Too many long years ago a birth coach(!) said : wish you good sailing on rough seas!