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Just talkin’



By Win Cowger

I have a life of discussion in and outside of the labor of Conservation Corps. Small talk has never been my forte. I often find myself bored of conversations with new people because I don’t desire to simply break the ice with them; I want to smash the ice to smithereens and sail away with them on an iceberg. The icebergs I try to sail away on with new people have names like: theology, politics, theoretical physics and culture. Occasionally, a new friend and I will float away together. This curse, or gift, has led a friend and me to start ad hoc meetings. Our first meeting was two weeks ago.

The circle of eight people felt like a gathering of elders. We all sat anxiously in my living room awaiting the first question to trigger that desire within us to “know” truth and begin philosophizing. Most of the people were unfamiliar with each other and it seemed like the small talk would never end, so I sat quietly as usual trying to think of a deeper discussion topic to jump into.

Isaac said, “I really like my job as a programmer.”

Lisa jumped in calmly and with a focus that demanded depth, “Why?”

Isaac responded with a smile, “Because it gives me satisfaction every day.”

Lisa said, “Why?”

Everyone grew curious and leaned forward a little. Isaac said, “Because I am doing what I have always wanted to do; it’s what I love.”

Lisa said, “Why?”

We were all amused with this tactic and the questions that Isaac had just stumbled upon. (Why do we do the things that we love or why do we love?)

Isaac said, “I am not sure.”

We all fell into the conversation and one after another provided our own answers to the questions.

Brit spoke first like a college professor speaking to his students, “We need to do what we love. Having passion for what we are doing makes our output better, because we are happier and more driven to improve.”

Nick countered, “If working is all about doing what we love then why shouldn’t we just stop working when our job becomes boring? I am sure that even Isaac, who loves his job, has things about his job that he hates.”

Brit sat for a moment on the question and responded, “Love. Love is more than just liking something. It is dedicating your entire being to that thing. In this imperfect world there are always things that bring us down, but when we are in love we don’t give up.”

Jarred curved the group onto a new path, “I think the question originally was, and correct me if I am wrong, something much trickier, ‘Why do we love?’”

Lisa and I smiled at each other and the night continued to reach questions which may not actually have answers. I encourage you to speak beyond “The weather is nice today” and towards “Why is the sky blue?” conversations. The people at this gathering we first philosophized with during chemistry class, at a potluck or wherever we first met them. Try smashing the ice with new people sometime. You never know where the iceberg may take you. On my crew, once we began talking about the deeper subjects we are brought closer together than ever before.