Last night, Herman and I had dinner with a charming couple. John is a forty-nine-year-old man who works for Head Start while completing his PhD degree in social services, and Rick is a sixty-three-year-old, healthcare professional who has been caring for a disabled friend of Herman’s for the last dozen years. They have been partners for ten years, and bought a house together in Palm Springs six years ago.
The conversation was stimulating, and mostly focused on John’s experiences during his eighteen years working at Head Start. As the conversation unfolded like a picturesque flower blooming, I began to appreciate how much I love getting to know people, hearing their stories.
Each of us, no matter what path we’ve taken or where we come from, is a fascinating story, with layer after layer of intrigue and mystery and sorrow and heart-warming tales. Sitting down across the dinner table is similar to opening a book by a new author, but it’s so much more because, where a book is one-way communication of ideas and images, conversation is a dance between all parties, and there is no telling where the conversation will lead or what gems of knowledge it will uncover.
I find it so intriguing to hear these stories from old and new friends alike. I try to see past the ideas and actions of what’s being said, see past the image the person is trying to project, to catch a glimpse of the person’s core.
It’s such a simple setting, a glass of red, a plate of pasta, surrounded by happy people at other tables. Yet, there is so much to be gleaned by stimulating conversation. Not only do wrestle with ideas, hear people’s story, and glimpse their being, you also get a chance to bear your own soul, share your stories. Yes, such a simple setting, yet you get a chance to lose that feeling of loneliness we all carry, and for a few hours touch another being, and be touched in return. Deep calling to deep. What could be better?