It was my first interview for the first play I have written, so it goes without saying that I was REALLY excited about it all week. On Wednesday at work at my day job, I kept thinking about the fact that at the end of the day, I could clock out and head to this interview where I was going to get to have a conversation with someone who was interested in hearing me talk about something I feel incredibly passionate about. When I arrived and sat down on camera to talk, it was a joy beyond words to be having a conversation that did not involve Outlooks appointments, scheduling databases, or outgoing mail and Fedex packages. After a long day in a job where most of my co-workers (to no fault of their own) have no idea what really makes me tick, it was pure joy to have Anne look me in the eye and begin the conversation. "So tell me about this project...."
In a larger sense, it got me thinking about the questions we ask each other. How often do we meet someone new, only to ask immediately "What do you do?" or "Where do you work?" And how many times does our own answer fail to express who we really are, what really defines us deep down in our bones? In my experience, it almost always fails. I once asked a friend of mine who is a bio-medical engineer, "How's work going?" He looked me straight in the eye and in the most sincere way, replied "Fine, but I'd MUCH rather tell you how my recent kayak trip was." A very dear friend of mine works as a brilliant communications director, but one of her real soul-calling passions is Tango. To hear her retell a story from a Tango milonga (a Tango social dance event), is to be dancing across the dance floor yourself, transported into the world she loves so much. How much do we cheat her and ourselves if, upon meeting her, we only ask "Where do you work?"
As corny as it may sound, let's think about instead asking "What have you been up to lately?" or "Tell me about your ______" and fill in the blank with something you know that dear person is passionate about; their newest bike build, recent hiking trip to CA, book you're reading, attempt to perfect a chocolate cake recipe, latest home repair project, a 5K you're training for....the possibilities are endless. When you ask these questions, you help the other person to know they have been seen and heard.
Let's not let anyone else define us and what it is that we can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to do. Let's start to use different language when we speak to our dear friends and family about what is happening in their lives. Let us forgive ourselves for how we have been trained to interact and communicate with one another. There are so many passionate souls out there waiting for their moment to be interviewed, let's let them speak.