He listens intently, saying nothing. That's his role. He listens. He listens and then mulls it over, then analyses, then speaks. 
 
Always the same steps. Always the same. A gentle trickle of insightful words slipping from his lips with a seductive charm. 
 
You squeak. The leather on the sofa squeaking as it crinkles under your weight. It forces you to slow your movements, to be more tentative. To move with deliberate but slow grace so as not to activate the squeak alarm. So as not to disturb the mulling, the analysing. 
 
His well-chosen, insightful words will enlighten you. That's his role. His well-chosen, insightful words will guide you. Thats his end of the bargain. You bring the fact, the fiction, the frustration, the farce. He brings the light. 
 
Autumn sunshine forces its way past the glass in the window to fill the room. It is cold outside but in here, it is warm, not overly warm but comfortably warm. Still he says nothing, simply staring into the middle distance whilst a million connections are made in his brain. A thousand conversations like this one are mentally reviewed to begin to form a response. To build an answer. 
 
You lift the weight from your bottom by pushing down on your feet, just briefly, just slowly. A momentary relief from the pressure and no squeak. He blinks and looks directly at you, the smirk on his face is not hurtful, not malicious, not patronising but it is mischievous and it is very endearing. 
 
"Do we not imagine that they are feeling it too? One of the major failings of human beings is that we rejoice in crowds but we hurt in isolation. We assume that we are the only one who could possibly be feeling this hurt, this frustration, this awkward dilemma. 
 
Let's dismiss the chaperone immediately. It is easier with one than without one. With one, it is a crowd, a defused situation, a collective, laughs within a bunch. To open the door and join that is easy. 
 
Without one, it is intimate, it is an entirely different dynamic, it is uphill. To open the door and join that is awkward. See? Unless we have reason to presume otherwise and if we do, let's curtail this now; but unless we have reason to presume otherwise, let's be assured that intimate is the shared desire where collective is the facilitator to enable something. Rather something than nothing. 
 
Having said all that, I fully accept that collective is a double edged sword. Collective gives us vision with chasm. The vision of being able to see with the yawning chasm of polite exchange. Sometimes that can be more painful, more excruciating than not being there at all and shouldering the weight of missing. Now the bigger question. 
 
We can't second guess what others are thinking. We can't know what shape this or any other situation is to them. We can't know to what degree they are processing the facts or the fiction. We can only know what we are doing. What we are processing. What we are considering. We simply cannot know the list of 'what ifs' they are carrying around unless they tell us. 
 
Having said that, we simply cannot expect to be told the 'what ifs' unless we share ours too. The issue that presents for both sides of the table is the emergence of fear. The fear that the 'what ifs' we air send them or us recoiling in horror and disbelief and then the chemistry is polluted. 
 
All I will say is a lifetime can pass whilst we are treading water and surely it is better to know whether there is an island to be shared or whether we need to turn to the horizon, kick hard and swim for a different shore." 
 
The Autumn sunshine lingers in the middle of room now leaving shadows in the corners. It is cold outside but it is warm in here, not overly warm but comfortably warm. He stares into the middle distance and listens intently. You squeaked as you left... 
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