The Art of Conversation: Recharging Our Socially Distanced Batteries
I had lunch with a longtime friend of mine this week. For the last few months, we have made a commitment to getting together once a month for lunch, because even though we live just around the corner from one another, our lives just don’t naturally intersect like they use to, and we have decided our friendship is worth the effort. Heading over to meet him, I thought of how tired I’ve been feeling, and wanted to ask how much he is experiencing the same. We got to the restaurant, discovered their indoor dining area is currently closed because…Covid, were graciously invited to dine privately in their outdoor patio area, ordered our food, and sat down to talk in the surprising enjoyable fall air.
After catching up a bit, discussing the excellent wings and hospitality at the restaurant (Sauce & Bones on S. Sherwood Forest near I-12 in Baton Rouge – HIGHLY recommend!), and hashing out the current dynamics of LSU football, along with the rest of the SEC, and college football as a whole in these days of Covid, I realized something very interesting…
I didn’t feel so tired anymore. Like, I seriously felt energized to the point of “normal.” How did that happen?!? I mean, I really puzzled over this on my drive back to my office. Why didn’t I feel tired? It wasn’t like there was some profound revelation from our lunch conversation. Heck – we talked a lot about what a bummer this football season is shaping up to be. Why was I energized? And finally, it hit me…
My people battery had gotten a jump start! For months, I have been more disconnected from friends and conversation than I have ever been before in my life. As a therapist, I talk with folks for a living every day. But being there for clients on the clock – even for as genuine and real as my conversations are with my clients – just isn’t the same as the mutual intimacy and energy of talking with dear friends. However, spending an hour or so sharing stories and dreams with a good friend – that put some serious charge back in the ole social battery! Another friend and I have recently made a commitment to getting together for a weekly walk and talk on Sunday afternoons, because we both greatly value conversation with one another. That has become a mainstay and highlight of my week.
And let’s talk about the home front. As much as my wife and I enjoy connecting around various TV series on Netflix, and as much as our son enjoys playing his guitar in his room or conquering the gaming world with his friends on his Xbox, we are realizing we have been leaning too far into these “escapes” and missing out on vibrant conversation with one another. So, we’re making some changes. More family dinner conversation. Less late night TV time. Still struggling with all of us spending too much time with our faces buried in our phones. In fact, recently a line from “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” really stopped me. The teens from 2016 are interacting with a teen who had been stuck in Jumanji for twenty years. After listening to so many of their comments about not having their phones, he finally exclaims: “Does ‘phone’ mean something different in the future?!?” Dude, you have NO IDEA!!! Setting aside distractions and escapes for some real heart to heart talk with spouse, children, and family is always a sound investment for every family. Even if you are initially met with some rolled eyes, stick with it – your whole family will benefit.
Well, I think it’s time to start wrapping up this little blog post. Bottom line… if you’re finding yourself feeling increasingly weary this year, try making more time for some face to face conversation with someone who really matters to you. Or several someones. If you need to use Zoom or FaceTime, use it. If you feel you need to mask up – well, at least find a fun mask. Exercise can help. Eating a healthier diet can make a real difference. Taking time for prayer, meditation, and reading books that matter are all great. Shoot – don’t be above taking naps when you need them. But if you still find yourself kinda dragging… try hooking up the old social jumper cables from your soul battery to someone who adds life to you through some good old fashioned conversation.