Friday, March 14, 2008

The overheard

I'll start with this. I wrote about keeking a long time ago, that fine art of taking a little peek in on something, a glance. I do this with listening too - you might call it eavesdropping, I would call it... research. Or maybe a way of life.

Take this example. Last weekend Kevin and I were having breakfast at a pleasant little restaurant. It was really crowded, cheek to jowl. A couple of young guys were near us and had a conversation something like this:

"So how was it last night?"
"Oh, man, it was sweet! There were only, like, two or three fights. Though this one girl took it really hard on the head and was holding herself up on a pole afterwards. It really wasn't that bad."

Within another sentence or two they were talking about if they should start a housecleaning business or stick with their jobs for another six months because, "The work is like, balls, but it's at least a steady income and until I'm ready to do something on my own I really can't complain."

I'm just grateful they didn't look over and notice me jotting all this down. Being 40 and invisible does have its advantages I guess, though that could be another post.

Meanwhile, the couple on the other side was having a heartfelt discussion about literature, the future of their relationship, and the cost of gas.

I love those overheard gems. They help me remember that we aren't really so different from one another, that we all have largely the same cares and concerns. I can't say that an evening with only two or three fights would be my idea of a good time, but I can identify with his excitement and energy and the thrill of just being alive. All the while the other couple was so very much a chick-flick one moment and then real-world every-day the next. And I live that life too, the one of operatic concerns and mundanities.

Any of this material would seem very cinema-verite, but it doesn't need the cinema part. Just by listening I have a greater connection to the real life that happens all around me. And this is just passive listening, simply by being in an environment and extending my ears. I get to absorb stories, process them and my world becomes a bigger place. How cool is that?

So by just listening I learn about the secrets and truths in the human heart. I learn about the threads that connect us. I gather material for characters and stories. And I get to remember that I am one of many and just as easily overheard. How wonderful! Someday I might show up on someone else's blog.

So the other day I overheard this woman talking to her friend and she said... Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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