Archive for December 23rd, 2010

USEFUL Experience

Commenters have made it clear that they get bored when I talk about ME. On the other hand, commenters tell me that it is fascinating to them when I tell them about ME.

The first type of ME is about things like what I like for supper as opposed to what you like for supper or my personal peeves.

The second type of ME is what us kids always loved to hear from the old folks during Porch Talk. It is the sort of thing I could not have experienced, it put me in the world they grew up in or other things which we identify with but cannot have been in yet.

The first ME is reciting the same kind of stuff everybody, especially old folks, like to tell. It’s a lot like living their lives WITH them. It is a set of observations that you might make if you had had the time and different things happen to you that he did.

It is all very well to have a grandfather who won a Medal in combat or scored four touchdowns in a single game, but that can get tiresome very quickly. Porch talk kind of rolls along, with grandpa responding to talk with experiences of his own.

The fundamental point here is that Porch Talk usually is not meant to impress you. The Porch Talk person has been there and tells you how it LOOKS from wherever THERE is.

In fact, there a somewhat inverse proportion between how good it makes you look and the View From There. Good Porch Talk is largely the opposite of the paid consultants on TV. We are used to only hearing about Intelligence Work from Network Contributors who are Colonel so and so, retired, with 42 years in the Defense Intelligence Agency.

What he has to say as an Expert who has spent his life in one area is like the “talking heads” on television, one-minute confirmation of what the regular newsman just said. But it would make miserable Porch Talk IN THE LONG RUN.

We all know how tiresome an old man can get if every night he starts the talk with “I spent forty-two years in this” or “I was in World War II.”

When you think about this simple fact, you realize that what makes Porch Talk is not marveling at what the Old Man DID, but the observations he makes about it. What he is talking about is something You can live through, because you don’t need the SAME experience to see what he saw and live what he lived.

It has been said many times and in many ways that a life lived without reflection is a life unlived. Out on the porch, what you like to hear is the reflections, not the repeat of someone’s high point in life. Sitting there listening, you know that there will be many, many times in your long life after childhood when the reflection the Old Man is making will come back to you, because you are living the same thing in another experience.

It is very useful that I have showed up in an amazing array of places, IF I make those experiences into something that means something to YOU.

Being There is only Step One. Thousands of hours of reflecting on it and getting it into a context you can use is more important.

The above two sentences sound obvious. But precious few people who think it is obvious DO it.

Grandpa learned to do it because if he kept talking about his WWII or his four touchdowns, the kids would wander away.

Almost nobody does it now that Porch Talk is over.