Mike Kueber's Blog

August 1, 2015

Conversation and missed encounters

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 3:10 am
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A couple of days ago at Lifetime Fitness I attended a special Yoga under the Stars.  As I was leaving, I noticed an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of months.  I swung in his direction, said hi, and bumped fists with him before continuing on my way to the locker room.  After I got to the locker room, I regretted not stopping and catching up with the guy, so I went looking for him, but he was already gone.

Why didn’t I stop in the first place?  I wasn’t in a conversational mood and had only an instant to decide whether to stop and, if I did, what to say.  So I took the easy way out, and afterward was disappointed.

This incident brought to mind two concepts:

  • Encounters.  Last year, I blogged about the recommendation of French philosopher Gabriel Marcel that people should pay more attention and energy to their day-to-day encounters.  Author Michael Novak described this philosophy as follows: “Marcel brought new light to daily experiences, such as recognizing the ‘presence’ of other persons and ‘encounter’ with another person – in other words, not just a passing, inattentive moment with another human being, but something more.  He drew attention to the difference between sitting between two people on the subway for an hour – treating them without recognition or interest or attention – and the act of having a memorable exchange of personal qualities.”
  • Conversation.  A few weeks ago, I blogged about the art of conversation in the context of cocktail parties and how this art can enhance encounters.  Indeed, several episodes of Downton Abbey include situations where conversation is treated as an art to be learned and practiced.

In hindsight, I kick myself over the missed opportunity after Yoga under the Stars.  Next time, I will be ready.

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