Thursday, May 27, 2010


There are two kinds of people in the world: talkers and listeners.

I am a listener. Here's why.

First, when I am talking, I generally get the impression that the listener doesn't give a rat's you-know-what about what I have to say. Understandable. But I also have a physical defect, that is, my brain and my mouth are not synchronized very well. I pause too often to compose my thoughts, or to consider whether or not I actually believe what I am saying. It's kind of like a guy driving a car and stopping every other mile to get directions. Annoying.

So the fall back position for non-talkers is listening, or at least hearing anyway, because sometimes we listeners listen with reluctance, to put it politely.

Generally though, I enjoy hearing words formed into sentences. I can listen to National Public Radio's fund-raising segments even though I am not concentrating on the words being said. There is a pleasant cadence to the voices. The same with baseball games. There is nothing quite like the sound of a good radio play-by-play man talking you through the game, moving in and out of silence with dancer-like precision. I envy these at-ease talkers who string words together without effort.

But, talkers need listeners and listeners need talkers. Put two listeners together and the silence can be very uncomfortable. Put two talkers together and, well, you know what that's like.

There is a popular story of two famous non-talking, men of letters, Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth, that sums up this listener's frame of mind. It goes like this:
"Wordsworth goes to visit Coleridge at his cottage, walks in, sits down and does not utter a word for three hours. Neither does Coleridge. Wordsworth then rises and, as he leaves, thanks his friend for a perfect evening." *
Now that is my idea of a good time.

* Quote from Roger Rosenblott, Time Magazine essay, the Silent Friendship of Men


Just Me Saying said...

Loved this post! But now I am confused. See, I keep to myself a lot so that would make me a listener and a reader.

But when I do get around friends, I am a talker, because I haven't done that in awhile! LOL

Not sure if what I just said made any sense.... but again, I loved the article. Great post!

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks Just Me, and what you said makes plenty of sense. I do the same.