I will be the first to admit that I have rather a lot to say for myself. I go off at tangents, usually waving my hands in the air, and often forget what I started saying in the first place. The discipline of working to a (loose!) word count in my blog posts is good for me, so you can rest easy that I’m not going to be podcasting any time soon!
All joking aside, talking is good for us. I spent last weekend at the Yarndale festival talking socks (and other subjects) to so many people who made my weekend full of joy and completely topped up my well-being tanks. I think that we underestimate how much we need the physical presence of other people so that we can share views, learn new things and even just pass the time of day. When I’m out with the dog, I say hello to everyone we meet because you never know – I might be the only person they speak to in their whole day. Loneliness is one of the biggest killers in our world and conversation, however brief, is one of the ways to reduce it.
It’s too easy to be wrapped up in our own business – and busy-ness – and not think about how it’s affecting us. Sometimes we are too busy to speak to anybody, rushing from one task to the next, but we need different conversations in our day as much as we need to eat five fruit and vegetable portions. We need to talk office talk, to discuss the weather, to share a joke or criticise last night’s television schedule. We need to learn, to teach, to sing … we need to keep talking. I think it’s as vital to our health and well-being as air, food or sleep.
I remembered a quotation by Stephen Hawking this morning. It was used in a BT advert in 1994 and I think it sums up everything that is important about the power that we have in our ability to use words to communicate. Words can be used positively or negatively, often without much thought for the consequences when we speak. Wars have been started over misunderstandings in our communication and peace treaties have been brokered by conversation between the injured parties.
So yes, I do have a lot to say for myself (and maybe sometimes I should say less!) but I would rather try to say something positive and brighten someone’s day than not speak at all and pass my hours in silence. Words can be like sunshine through the clouds, and you can never have too much of that.
"For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking."
- Stephen Hawking