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  • Taking time to have small chats about nothing in particular with people.


  • We don't know and are unlikely ever to meet again.


  • Can from some perspectives seem like the height of absurdity.


  • Maybe we're in a coffee shop and someone's preparing us a drink.


  • Perhaps we've crossed the neighbor in the hallway while getting our post or we're on a train waiting for the doors to open.


  • Why would we bother to hold up our day for a few moments?


  • Given how many things we already need to do and how many good friends we already have that we haven't seen in far too long.


  • We may also have a more high minded defense for our silence.


  • We aspire to be profound people and there is no way that we can get anywhere meaningful with a near or complete stranger in a compressed amount of time, we shun the smaller chats because in the back of our minds, we tell ourselves that we are already sufficiently deeply committed to the long and consequential ones.


  • But this is to miss the point and the opportunities presented by minor social exchanges.


  • They stand in relation to lengthy friendships rather as Haikus do next to 1000 page novels.


  • There are things a tiny poem can do that.


  • A comprehensive narrative will miss.


  • There are single sentences that can mark us as much as entire volumes.


  • There are pictures that can stick with us in a way that a three hour film won't.


  • We can be disproportionately and yet powerfully touched by so called minor things, small sympathetic chats matter above all because few of us are ever very far from sadness and despondency.


  • There are so many reasons to dislike ourselves, to be paranoid about what other people think and to regret mistakes we've made when we are in a febrile or fragile mood, a short kindly exchange can be all that's needed to start to turn around a deeply dark day.


  • An enormous amount of sympathy and fellow feeling can be compressed in the most miniscule dialogue.


  • They make them like that to torture us, don't they?


  • We might say to a parent struggling to close the zip on a child's jacket and a sudden downpour thereby sending a modest sign that we know how difficult things can be and that we have in some ways been there or somewhere like there ourselves or we might on our way to a station exchange, one or two sympathetic words with a taxi driver about their elderly mother who we learn has just gone into a care home after having a fall.


  • The chat won't change anything in an already tricky situation.


  • But the humanity on display might just, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer remarked that we can never know for sure who around us may at any particular moment be thinking of ending their own life.


  • The thought usefully puts into relief, what might be at stake in any exchange we may at points.


  • And without any obvious warning, be the last thing between someone and their decision to despair.


  • A charge often made against small chats is that we can surely only be pretending to be friendly.


  • Yet this is to miss out how much and how deeply our hearts may go out to people whose lives we merely brush against.


  • We can imagine our way into pains whose details we will never know we can if it doesn't sound too paradoxical love, a stranger.


  • And even more oddly, for only a minute or two, we are in all this so often held back by unhelpfully, grand ideas of what it means to change the world.


  • We imagine the requirements for improvement on such a large scale that along the way, we end up grievously neglecting what it is actually in our powers to achieve right now.


  • Today, the next time we go out, we suffer from an upside down view of where significance can lie.


  • We are assembled out of small things and may live or die by their presence or absence.


  • We have in our hands, a very potent weapon already the power to say a warm, gentle, sympathetic, hello.


Taking time to have small chats about nothing in particular with people.


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B1 中級 中文

與陌生人的小談話對生活的改變作用 (The Life Changing Effect of Small Talk With Strangers)

  • 54 1
    林宜悉 發佈於 2023 年 05 月 25 日