Refreshing to listen to someone else about their life

IT'S quite lovely what can happen when one closes their mouth, opens their ears (and their minds) and just listens.

Everyone has a story to tell and no one's is more important than the next.

Of course, we all know those who believe their lives are more exciting, their stories more compelling and their experiences more profound.

But really, these people are often the most boring.

There are few more irritating realities of life than the condescension and the narcissism of someone who needs to be at the centre of attention, and the centre of conversation.

All. The. Time.

Too much to say.

Massive ego.

Insecurities to match.

I have long held the belief that those who insist upon verbalising their many strengths, telling all who'll listen of their accomplishments and who loudly dominate a conversation are usually the ones with the greatest insecurities and not much else going on.

But then when one shuts one's mouth and listens, or moreover, actually hears what another is saying, there is a lovely connection which can take place.

A couple of nights ago, after a very long and exhausting day of travel, I hopped in the back seat of a cab in the hope I could just get lost in the darkness and let the dim wash of the passing street lights flick past my eyes.

I was shattered. Had no more in me.

But then, something kind of cool happened.

It started with a bit of the usual taxi industry rant, disdainful commentary about the world and lament for better times gone by, but then the conversation shifted and I was offered a privileged glimpse into this gentleman's life.

He hadn't travelled the world.

He hadn't headed major corporations or done anything sensational.

But his was a life which shunned the superficial, was blissfully unimpressed by the shiny stuff and was true, simple and real.

He spoke of the love for his long-time wife - for whom he cared as she struggled with rheumatoid arthritis, he spoke of his birds, a career in the railway and love of home.

After the white noise, the sterility and the rush and gush of airports and all things galvanized and superficial, this was the perfect antidote.

It took me home. It grounded me again. It was fabulous.

Topics:  gladstone meredith papavasiliou opinion

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