Blending Old and New—A Story in Three Parts

The setting

Last week, as I imagined reconnecting with folks during my 50th high school reunion, I decided to I would seek to go beyond small talk in conversations. (Mind you, I can do small talk, but I don’t enjoy it.) I would lead with my two main areas of interest (aside from my art)—my work as a death literacy specialist and graphic facilitator with a focus on capturing people’s end-of-life plans, wishes, hopes, and dreams. While I love my work as a bikablo trainer and Drawifier/illustrator, I am shifting my focus to use all of my skills in these newer areas of work. 

I crafted a simple yet different question as my opening: “How are you spending your time?” While one of my favorite questions is, “What’s new and exciting in your life right now?” It’s not always easy for people to answer. This was a social occasion, and I was guessing people didn’t think they would be pressed for much more than casual conversation. 

Early in the evening, I sat down at a table (as my back was not in party mode/ready for standing still for periods of time). I met two women who were the spouses of classmates. As you can imagine, when asked how I came to be at the event (meaning, class of ’74, ’75, or as a partner), my answer brought us into a juicy conversation and bypassed small talk. After sitting with the women for 15 or 20 minutes, I got up to circulate. As I was about to step away, one of the women said, “You dive right into deep conversations, don’t you?” She nailed it. The evening was enjoyable as my questions for folks and my responses to their queries made for many meaningful exchanges. I also fell into easy, deep conversations with several classmates. I love that we could quickly create comfortable connections about what is essential in our lives. 

Picking up where I left off with a good book…

Driving home from one of the parties, I started listening to Pete Davis’s book, Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing, again. (Honestly, the book is so good, so filled with rich detail, that I want to take notes, which is impossible while driving, so I’ve put it aside for a while, knowing that I need to have pen and paper or a keyboard nearby when I listen.) In my effort to stay awake while driving home, I listened to him speak about lives filled with browsing and the joy of anonymity—how we can slip in and out of experiences because we don’t commit. I find this related to my desire to commit to having authentic conversations with people at the reunion and for the rest of my life.

Conscious Choices

As we step into a long holiday weekend here in the US, I wonder what you are thinking about the events you’ll go to, the people you will see, and the types of conversations you will have. (For y’all who aren’t having a long weekend, I bet you’ll be seeing folks, too.) I’m not advocating for deep, thoughtful, or soul-searching conversations with everyone. (I have been known to make the occasional joke.) For me, it’s about making conscious decisions about the quality of conversations I want with people based on who we are/how we know each other, and where we are at that moment in time. 

What’s your thinking? I’d love to know!


PS: I’m researching a new project about helping people become well-informed and more confident in planning for their end-of-life. This work will focus on decisions around planning—health care choices about quality of life, burial options, ceremonies, talking with family and close friends, and more. If you’re interested in this topic and would like to share 20 minutes of your time so that I can ask you some questions and talk with you, your answers can help me design a program that will best serve those desiring to make their end-of-life plans.

I will be having these calls over the next two to three weeks. If you are interested and available, I’m including a booking link here so you can choose a time that works best for you. If you would like to email me before scheduling a call, that’s fine, too. (If you don’t see times that fit your schedule, just let me know, and we’ll find a way to get together). I’d love to learn what you think. These are always interesting conversations. 

If you know of people in your circle who might be interested in a conversation, please share this information with them or introduce us via email. Thank you!