I’ve enjoyed having various conversations with different people over the past few days. It brings the level of my own thinking up a notch or two when flaws in my thinking are revealed or new perspectives are gained.
I feel a that new perspective is not something you can just get on your own on demand or through effort, it requires inpouring of thoughts from elsewhere. A book, a person or a muse such as music or art. I’ve come to see that art that inspires as well as writing that stirs the heart and mind can be as useful as having a direct exchange with another person and am growing to enjoy such things more. Listening is key to capture a new perspective or thought; suspending processing and judgement or forming thoughts while at the same time making sense of the input I am taking in. Therefore, in addition to human interactions, I think reading is perhaps loosely some form of listening.
I find that while reading, “listening” is easier and I am able to take in as much as I like at any one time and control the pace at which the book “talks” to me by simply stopping to ponder. Of course, the book will not hear any of my questions, comments or clarifications, so thought-intake from a book tends to be more voluntary and the author gets to say his piece without interruption as long as a reader is willing. Listening to people is a far more active task than reading. A conversation with another person may come with the obligation to carry on the conversation even when personal interest and attention has long expired while a book’s feelings will never be hurt when you lay it down, sometimes never to pick it up again. It is always ready to talk to you and ever willing to share its content.
Separately, a human interaction differs in that it is coloured by our past experience as well as our own self-consciousness. A concern with how we look, sound and how the other person views us. We also have to process not just what is being said but the tone, body language as well as other non-verbal nuances to fully understand what another person is truly communicating. This requires developing skills of observation that can only come with practice; the more interactions you have, the better you will likely get. You might also have to deal with an inarticulate mind or language abilities that differ, perhaps a small inconvenience for the richness of conversational metadata while exchanging ideas.
These few days have presented many chances to capture other’s perspectives. Just a day more to go, not many opportunities to interact after but here quality definitely trumps quantity. Didn’t think much about art and music but I think they can be separately considered at length sometime else.
Looking forward to more people, books, art and music!