The Mystery Of Talking With Others
Years ago in a university in Pennsylvania, I suddenly discovered the delight of group projects, for which people bounce ideas around and try to get things done with joint efforts. Why hadn’t it happened to me before that point? I don’t know. Since then, I’ve often experienced of learning things and coming up with ideas just by talking with people.
Actually I am quite an introvert, not the outgoing type at all. I know some friends of mine who don’t feel comfortable staying alone just for an hour. Actually it’s a common thing in the Asian immigrant community. I think it is because when we grew up, we were surrounded by others all the time. Even at night, the sound of others were always there. It takes a person years to get used to the soundless night in New Jersey. I digress.
Now coming back to the mystery of talking with others. Last week, I thought I was never going to come up with an idea to solve a problem. The person who requested to get the problem solved was quite inflexible about how things should be done. It was impossible to fit in the narrow spectrum he agreed with. For several days, I thought it was a goner, but then I talked with somebody. And during the conversation, an idea suddenly descended on me–I could change the solution a little bit to see if the stubborn person could feel OK with it. So I did and everybody was happy.
There’s magic in talking with others.
How To Make Things Less Boring
I don’t want to admit this, but still I have to say our life, our love, our work, or our writing is more about making things less boring than making things more exciting. Just think about the chores we have to do every day, routines we have to repeat, exercise rituals we have to go through, duties we have to perform. They are all very boring. And we have to be creative in handling the boredom.
“Vera says she is never bored by Niccolo and he is never bored by her because they never tell the same stories twice….if she ever did tell a story twice, she said, she would change it around a little so that Niccolo would still find it interesting.”
This is from “Heartburn”, in which the author describes her therapist Vera, who has a perfect relationship with her husband after twenty years, while other relationships are suffering from varied degrees of dysfunction. For example, the author herself, who feels quite alienated at her own home, imagines plane crashes or some other disasters to put an end to her relationship so that she doesn’t have to end it herself.
I think telling a story with a little bit of change each time is a great idea. This applies to doing things too. Each time, just do it a little differently. Now let me think what change I can make to the process of doing laundry…
A Late Night Epiphany
Last night, I watched a program on Buddhism. It’s very relaxing. Such a beautiful monastery, with a row of praying wheels and huge statues. There’s also a description of the religious painting, Thangka, for which minerals (including gold) are mixed with pigments to create vivid and long lasting colors.
Suddenly an epiphany descends on me–those tales of Buddha are so simple, beautiful, and profound. They can be very suitable for adult language learners, who don’t want to get stuck in mundane everyday story like, “We went out for lunch yesterday. We ordered pasta and hamburgers. We were happy.” A children’s tale is equally boring to adult learners. Sorry, beloved children, please forgive me for saying so. Adults have to learn a language differently. Simple language with profound meaning. This is the kind of story that can keep an adult interested. And stories of Buddha are like that.