Marveling at the Driftwood of Conversation

As regular DR readers know, I am an unrepentant voyeur of human behavior. Nothing pleases me more than picking up the driftwood of conversation as it passes me by. “The ex-wife and all that stuff,” one man shakes his head. “Watch me get in trouble,” chuckles the woman at a nearby table. “My high school friend was always fascinated by knives, so he became a surgeon,” explains another. “So, there they were, at the French Heritage Society dinner, furious with one another, and toting this dog around wearing diamond earrings dangling from its ears,” she reported. “What he and his wife get out of snake poking, I do not get.” What???? People are endlessly fascinating. Each and every exchange provides glimpses into worlds unknown, delighting and mystifying me on a continual basis. Whatever these folks are up to sounds way more exciting than anything I know, so I cheerfully coast on the coattails of others.


Taking your curiosity and powers of observation with you wherever you go assures an interesting day. What was a recent, really odd thing you noticed while out and about? Once you start paying attention, you’ll notice that instances pop up all the time: people who make random comments to you, sui generis; flirtatious behaviors witnessed in line at the bank or happy hour; posturing by various parents during a little league game, including women wearing sport jerseys that say “Scoregasms” on their back—yuck! Who are these people? What is going through their minds? Not only is most of it hilarious, but instructive. Noticing the world around us teaches us about lives 180 degrees different from our own, making us aware of possibilities that, up until the moment we tuned in, we were blind to. Cautionary tales abound. Are baby dolls dressed in thongs a common sartorial option these days? What cynical wardrobe choices does Mattel make available for the Ken doll?


An important element of re-booting (and life) is the ability to enjoy the wide variety of humanity which surrounds us. We need to laugh everyday! To do otherwise, to ignore, miss, or scowl at this roaming version of the Canterbury Tales is akin to refusing to indulge in the feast spread before our feet. I have close, personal acquaintance with a woman who has invested the last 30 years glowering at everyone and everything around her; dedicating herself to feeling jealous, indignant, and outraged by whomever crosses her path and, brother, it shows. Who, in your life, does this remind you of? Who plays the Grumpy Gus no matter what nice thing is done for them or however ridiculous the mistake may be?


When was the last time you really laughed with a friend?


It saddens me when I see people who seem to have forgotten that life is meant to be joyful. By saying this, I don’t intend to diminish real world worries and concerns—I have them, too—but life is meant to be enjoyed. For all the problems that are out there, they still can’t crowd out the talents, kindnesses, solutions, and wacky ridiculousness that our fellow journey men offer up for us to savor each and every day. And the thing about it is, they can be cheap laughs—in the sense that you and someone diametrically opposite from you (politically, lifestyle-wise, you name it) can share a brief moment of appreciation for the absurd. Making merry is the balm that eases us through the rest of our journey.


Honestly, if I didn’t have my sense of humor, I would’ve ended up in a very bad place. As many difficulties as we face, somewhere, hidden throughout our day are little nuggets of amusement that it’s our job to find. Make it a goal to uncover at least three today—see if you don’t feel better. A re-booter understands how much laughter sets the stage for us to be stronger and more resilient.


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