Have you ever sat in a room where there is lots of laughter and hilarity and people are obviously having a great time, and yet, even though you are smiling and chatting, you wish with all your heart you were anywhere but there? It’s like the room is closing in around you and all you can hear is joined up noise; no individual words, just one ear-splitting clamour.
You want to gather yourself up and make for the exit, find your car and get home as fast as you can. But you can’t. This is a big night out, so you might have a drink and so you didn’t bring your car. You can call a taxi, but it’s Friday night and you will have to wait for ages. So you sit it out and wait for your lift, which is now an hour away. And you fake it. And for all you know, the person sitting next to you could be faking it too.
That’s a big dose of faking, but we do huge amounts of it on a small-scale every day. If any of you are “Charlie Brown” fans you will remember the noise his teacher made and this keeps popping into my head at various times. Times where you could replace the words being spoken in a conversation with “Blah, blah, blah” and neither party would either notice or care. We just seem to disconnect, leave the room mentally if not physically, wanting to be somewhere else.
Okay, so everything doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful. You don’t have to gaze into the eyes of the shop assistant as you pay for your groceries, paying dutiful attention to every word spoken. But at a time where we are being bombarded with instructions on how to be “mindful” in our everyday lives, are we so busy listening to our own self-talk that we can’t really be assed listening to others?