"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Talk to Me


No doubt in the last year or so, you've been subjected to way too many get - to - know you quizzes on e-mail and facebook.* They can be silly, but also mildly entertaining. Talking and listening to them, is probably a better way to get to know folks, but occasionally the quizzes are informative, especially if you care to learn various odd facts about your friends and acquaintances . . . such as:

What was your childhood ambition?
To sing on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.

Do you like your handwriting?
When I can read it.

What is your favorite Crayola Crayon?
Burnt Sienna.

Would you bungee jump?
Are you kidding?

What is your favorite sport?
Is reading a sport?

Chocolate or vanilla?
Duh! Chocolate.

Red or pink?

Summer or winter?
Summer for swimming; Autumn (THE BEST!)for Halloween;
Winter for Christmas; Spring just for a change.

That kind of thing . . .

I particularly appreciated the rather more innovative quiz that turned Hobbies into a two part question: Stated Hobby (Writing cards & letters) and Secret Hobby (Rewriting history). I also really liked one of the items that my cousin Alicia included in her list of hobbies: "Thinking."

I've always claimed to be the kind of person who doesn't mind standing in line or waiting at the airport -- AS LONG AS I HAVE A BOOK TO READ. Without a book, I would go crazy crazy crazy and start scrambling around desperately for any available reading material: an old map in the glove box, an orthodontia brochure, the nutritional information on a candy wrapper. However, after seeing my cousin's answer, I became a different person. Of course, the best plan is to never leave home without at least two books. I recommend "two," because what if you finish the first one and need another? But if for some reason, I end up stuck somewhere without one, I just say to myself, "Well, it's too bad you can't read right now, but -- look on the bright side -- you can think." Lucky me, getting to spend some time unexpectedly on one of my favorite hobbies!

My friend Milly also gave a perspective - changing answer to the hobby question. She claimed "Talking" as one of her hobbies. Naturally, talking has always been one of my favorite (time - wasting?) activities. After reading Milly's quiz, however, I perceived it anew -- as a hobby! Not time down the drain but a creative endeavor, an artistic pursuit, a cultivated skill. Personally fulfilling, but also leading to knowledge and experience, leisurely but also life - enhancing.

The poets agree:

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French author and aviator, b. 1900 - lost in flight 1944) gives us the mystical Little Prince who wants a friend and learns to listen. He comes to see that it's the time he has spent listening to his rose, even when she is sullen, that makes her so important in his life (The Little Prince 24).

Walt Whitman (great American humanist, transcendentalist, and free verse poet, 1819 - 92) confides, "This hour I tell things in confidence, / I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you ("Song of Myself," 38).

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (American author and aviator, 1906 - 2001) is intense and single-minded: " . . . it is not possible to talk wholeheartedly to more than one person at a time. You can't really talk with a person unless you surrender to them, for the moment (all other talk is futile). You can't surrender to more than one person a moment" (Bring Me a Unicorn, 147).

Dame Rebecca West (prolific British writer, 1892 - 1983) describes a similar certain truth: "There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking and listening to them for hours at a time."

Robert Frost (four-time Pulitzer Prize winning well - loved American poet, 1874 - 1963) has an earnest narrator explain his decision in this wise poem, one of my long - time favorites:

A Time to Talk
by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

In connection to the above bits of poetry and prose, the following insistent contemporary lyrics keep echoing through my head:

Here Comes the Rain Again
by Eurythmics: Annie Lennox and David Stewart

Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion
I want to walk in the open wind
I want to talk like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you

So baby talk to me
Like lovers do
Walk with me
Like lovers do
Talk to me
Like lovers do

Here comes the rain again
Raining in my head like a tragedy . . .

So baby talk -- talk talk talk talk -- to me . . .

I know this song is entitled "Here Comes the Rain Again," but what's the most important line? Talk to me!

Here I am in 1973, talking and listening to my friend Joni
. . . for hours at a time!

*If you're not all quizzed out already, here are a few more:

Possible ~ Plausible ~ Improbable

"Christmas Quiz"

"You're Out Walking"

"Take This Quiz!"

"Monday: Pop Quiz"

Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading


  1. I love the pic on the phone. Talking can be very powerful as long as listening occurs also!

  2. Ha! You and I can have some pretty good phone talks! But yes, I need a book wherever I go - like knitting, I take both with me everywhere and panic if I don't have one or the other when 'caught' in line, etc. (I read at red lights!)
    Gerry's garden is amazing.

  3. I've been trying the "thinking" activity more lately. I too used to grab just about anything to read but now I like to people watch and just let my mind wander.