Something I’ve observed for quite a while is how few questions people ask. I don’t mean the perfunctory greetings, i.e., how are you, what do you do, where do you come from? Those are almost knee jerk clichés that are said more out of courtesy and a need to fill awkward silences with small talk. I’m talking about thoughtful questions that provoke thoughtful responses, like what books do you read? What movies have deeply affected you? What music do you listen to? What bands or singers make you happy? I love knowing these things about people as well as their many quirks. When someone tells me they have siblings I have followed that with: do you like them? The faces I get when I ask that are priceless. But, really, I do want to know. I want to know everything about who the person standing in front of me, or on a Facebook screen on the other side of the world is. It amazes me how many times I’ve conversed with someone and it results in a monologue instead of a dialogue. The lack of curiosity and/or wonder astounds me and makes me think, why is that?
I’ve always been considered a good listener (even when I’m bored out of my skull). Most humans need to talk. It’s the absence of reciprocity that gets to me. There are people I’ve interacted with for many years who’ve never asked me a single thing about who I am, or what I like or desire. So many chatterboxes uttering so many banalities who won’t stop about whatever minutiae that’s on their mind. I LOVE nothing more than a great conversation, but often that is not how it goes down. When I am blessed to experience a great conversationalist, it gives me hope. Lately, I have had the good fortune to meet several people who show interest in things that I find intriguing. I can’t tell you how much enrichment and excitement that provides.
There’s a movie with the title Naked that came out in 1993. It’s a British film directed by Mike Leigh. The lead character gives a speech that has always stayed with me. I will paraphrase: he’s enraged about how everywhere he goes people are bored. “Bored, bored? They’ve opened the human body and you’re bored?” They’ve explored outer space, walked on the moon, mapped the ocean floor”… you get the picture. It’s so true. With all the millions upon millions of ideas, thoughts, discoveries, inventions, movies, and books, etc., many people are always bored. When I meet someone and find any hint of intrigue, or mystery, or actual personality, I want to know more. I’m not satisfied with the normal, automatic, getting to know you type questions. We’re alive for the time being, and I want to know what drives your world. What gets you going? What do you like? What don’t you like? Are you happy? Miserable? Both? Neither?
It fascinates me to know what entertains human beings. Many times someone will say they love to read, but when I inquire what, they can’t name a book or an author. How can that be? How can you not remember something or anything that you say affected you?
I’ve been told I ask weird questions. I take that as a compliment.