One summer, while living in a fast-talking city, I learned something remarkable about conversation.
The learning came from a friend who is not a fast talker. And beautifully so.
She and I could be having a conversation about the pope, shampoo, the midwest, didn’t matter what. We might be sitting at a cafe, walking down a street, standing at a party, didn’t matter where. She almost always did the same thing.
Before she put any words out into the air between us, she paused. There would be silence for fractions of a second, seconds, half minutes, whatever time she needed to give an honest response to the world at that moment.
And what was so beautiful about it was when she spoke, there was nothing recycled or regurgitated with her, no spiels or pat answers or old lines. Everything was born for the here and now.
Conversations with this friend became these big, roomy, fresh things where subjects got not just thought about, but cared for. Where there was space for silence – silence which is often the sound of someone thinking or feeling their way through a moment.
So, that summer in that fast-talking city, I learned about slow-talking. And responding to the world as it is now, not as it used to be minutes, hours, months ago.
And we have so many choices when we put words out into the air. But the choice I’ve been working to make since that summer is to take the pause, give the thought, take the care to put out words for this moment.