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Monday, April 25, 2011

Conversations With Dull People

In Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, the movie that is, there is a peculiar hourglass in Professor Slughorn's office. I can't remember if it's actually in the book. I'll have to listen to the book again to find out. Yes, I love audiobooks and the reader for the Harry Potter series is magnificent, truly.

The sand in the hourglass speeds up or slows down dependent upon the quality of the conversation. This got me thinking about the relativity of time. I'm sure the intent in the magical world of Harry Potter is to speed up time when the conversation is dull and slow it down when the conversation is brilliant (there's a little English turn of phrase for ya).

So, why in the real world does it work exactly the opposite? Why is it that conversations with dull people seem to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r while at the same time, conversations you wish would not end, are over before you know it?

Quite frankly, this is a dilemma because there are so many more dull people than fascinating. I mean honestly, why is that? I don't know where I fit really. I'm not arrogant enough to consider myself brilliant. I have a fair IQ, and I try to be clever, but mostly, I just go where my brain takes me. Usually that means the weather. You'd think that most people are somewhere in the middle as well, right? Not in my experience. I know it's a terrible thing to say? I'm not trying to be mean. I honestly think it's because we just don't have the time these days to figure out if someone is really interesting or not. Instead, we conduct short little conversations in passing and even though they are only minutes long, sometimes seconds... they seem to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. The types of conversations we have time for include dull topics like the weather (there it is again) or what the price of gas is these days. Honestly, who cares. The weather is the weather and we don't have any control over the price of gas. The worst part is, I get sucked into these topics all the time and sometimes I even start conversations this way. ARGH!

So it seems, I'm a really dull person as well. And here's the thing, the more attractive the person is, the more dull I get. The other day in the elevator, a handsome man said good morning to me and I nearly choked on my tongue. Why is that? Then of course I spent the rest of the day beating myself up because I was so dull... or idiotic might be a better term.

Wouldn't it be wonderful instead to sit around talking about art or new discoveries in science? Politics, the environment, the relativity of time or even talking about cars would be much more interesting than the weather. Now, there is an exception to "everything's more interesting than the weather" rule. When the weather discussion is pertinent to other aspects of the conversation, like "you've chose to hike the Appalachian Trail" for instance, and are concerned about how the weather will affect your hike, then okay!

What I've discovered is that most of the truly fascinating conversations I have are actually with children. I don't have any kids of my own, but I run across these miniature people occasionally and they truly are fascinating. They ask the most amazing questions and come up with truly incredible conclusions about things. I'll never forget about a little girl I met in the post office one day. She was carrying a small box with her. It had holes in the top which suggested she was keeping some kind of creature in it. I asked her about the box and she said it was her pet grasshopper. She went on to tell me all about him, what he liked to eat and the conversations she'd had with him. Let me tell you, that grasshopper wasn't dull

I guess if a grasshopper can be interesting... surely I can be. Or at least, surely I can keep trying... and that brings me back to the relativity of time. Certainly it's all about perception, right? When we're enjoying ourselves, time only seems to go faster. When we're not, it slows down. I think J.K. Rowling had it right, it should be the other way around. So, maybe the lesson is that we must immerse ourselves completely and totally in all of our conversations. Maybe by doing that, we can discover the "fascinating" in every seemingly dull person. By doing that, maybe we can speed up or slow down the passage of time. That's silly, right? I mean it's all about perception... or maybe it really is magic.

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