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  • Writer's pictureMeghan St. Clair

Talking to Strangers

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Having conversations with living, breathing, humans is the most important thing we can do to connect ourselves to others.  When the bottom seems close to dropping out, we can do something important to save humanity.  We can talk to our little people or someone else’s and share our stories with them.  Some of the best conversationalists in the world are children.

Kids teach about the art of conversation.  From an early age they say the first thing that comes to mind.  They make statements of obvious observation.  Other things they “know” sound skewed like they were unpacked from a lifetime of family baggage.  Kids can teach adults about the kindness in conversation, and also the pain.  Kids want to learn everything they can from adults and they ask a million questions.  They observe body language and can analyze responses from a deep place of innocence.  Kids are conversational checks and balances for adults.  And that’s how we save humanity:  one little at a time asking hard questions; opening up a dialogue about tough subjects we can’t pretend are non-existent.

My boys traipsed all over the country with their crazy momma who likes to talk to people.  There were folks who wanted us to be their kind of normal – and stay home.  But we are just not those kind of people.  We are curious learners who take comfort zones and shove them to the curb.  [Side note:  My husband is not a talker, and he knows I must use a minimum of 60,000 words in a day.  He is nice to let me converse even though he may not be inclined to participate.]  We wanted to see first hand what it’s like in different parts of the country.  And we talked to all different kinds of people from more than half the states (See Larry of the Larry Squares, above.  We also talked to another Larry of the Larry Squares.  There were four of them.)

Here’s a bit of truth:  I encourage my kids to talk to strangers.  Does that scare you?  If someone approached us on the street we would look that person in the eye and let them speak their peace.  In fact, we did not totally avoid Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA.  The things we saw there caused some jaw droppage, and I promise there was no shortage of conversation.  Strangers who do things that are unfamiliar to us, who have different accents, who use language in interesting ways cause us to think and put perspective to our own language.

Fellow humans, save yourselves and listen to the kids.  Certainly they are listening to you.  They will approach your conversation with confidence and clarity.  They will give a bit of context to your long winded fuss over the school board or stare at you blankly when your point is missed.  They will call you out when your truth is slanted and they will set you straight when your world view is small.  These little people we surround ourselves with are the change makers.  Let’s include children in our life shattering conversations so we can learn from each other.

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