My life is divided up into a dichotomy; being surrounded by a lot of people and a lot of noise, and being completely by myself.
It’s an interesting mix, giving me time to think of loads of questions to ask people, discussions to initiate, debates to have, when I’m by myself. And then absolutely no time to ask, start or flesh out any of my thoughts, when I am in the presence of other (grown fully formed) human beings as there is often far too much going for me to have the focus or attention to harness any previous alone time musing. Any brain power is directed towards immediate needs: Where did the kids go? Who needs a snack? What needs to be covered in the two hours I have for this work meeting? What ailment am I describing to the doctor? How much do my groceries cost? You get the gist.
Despite this sometimes frustrating contrast, I enjoy, take comfort in and inspiration from being in the company of other people, and equally treasure the time by myself. I am naturally curious about other people and how they live; from their mundane nuances to the extraordinary life-altering events they have experienced or witnessed. I love getting caught up and swept away in the detail, no matter the subject someone else is describing.
Conversely I am a task-oriented person by nature. I love a to-do list, and find that feeling productive and useful directly correlates to my own sense of satisfaction. But it can get in the way sometimes.
So if you walk past me on the street, bump into me in the queue at the grocery store, at a work event or meeting, in the post office etc. know that despite my lack of ability to take my focus off of the immediate tasks at hand, here is what I really want to ask you:
What time did you get up this morning?
What is your morning routine like these days? (Note: I am now deeply fascinated by what those sans children do with themselves in the mornings as this is something I can no longer remember about myself.)
What is your absolute favourite thing to eat for breakfast?
What music did you listen to as a teenager or young adult? What songs make you feel nostalgic for those days?
What is currently your favourite outfit in your wardrobe and when is a memorable time that you wore it?
What do you love to do?
What names would you have chosen for your kids (if you have them) if you had to choose an alternative?
What is the best trip you’ve ever taken? Describe the food of that place to me in detail!
Where do you want to go next? (Note: wherever it is, I want to go there too.)
What was your grandma like? Can I tell you about mine?
What is your dream job? If you are doing it now I want to hear all about how you got here, because that is amazing.
How do you feel about yourself, what do you think are your strengths? (I promise I am not interviewing you for a job, but I am curious how people see themselves. I have a different opinion on who I am daily, and suspect I may not be alone in that flux)
Does your family live close? How often do you see them? Have circumstances ever been different? What was that like?
What is your favourite meal/thing to cook? (Mine is homemade pasta!) How did you learn how to make it?
What is your saddest memory?
What is your happiest one?
Who are the people most important to you? How long have you known them? Where did you meet?
The list goes on…..even just getting to write these questions down makes me smile, because I don’t know if I’ve ever put them onto one page before.
So when you see me, and I say ‘hi’, this is really the subtext, that I will recall once again when I am by myself and have time to let my thoughts wander. Because I want to know absolutely everything.