Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

How to Be Polite

There is so much good stuff here. While I have few friends, the ones I’ve made without the aid of geography or other people have been through listening.

I’ll sit and listen for hours. I’ll soak up information and stories without speaking a word, other than a nod or acknowledgment I am still listening and interested.

I don’t often have much to say. Unless you touch on a topic I (possibly unknowingly) care deeply about. Then the words come pouring out. Most of the time, I am happy to sit and listen. I love to listen.

I learn so much that way. Now if I could only retain half of what I’ve listened to. I could take over the world.

Charred man

The incinerated man stared back at Jarecke through the camera’s viewfinder, his blackened arm reaching over the edge of the truck’s windshield. Jarecke recalls that he could “see clearly how precious life was to this guy, because he was fighting for it. He was fighting to save his life to the very end, till he was completely burned up. He was trying to get out of that truck.”

The War Photo No One Would Publish

The face of war is ugly. Back in the early 90s in Iraq, this photo never saw the pages of media in the US. But not because of military censorship. American media did that just fine on their own.

The quiet scares me. So, I make my own noise, plugging little smooth white plastic buds into my ears to listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and loud music. It helps me work, I tell my coworkers. It keeps me sane, I tell myself. It keeps the silence away.

The Silence and I

I will go to great lengths to find silence. I will see out quiet and solitude in even the busiest of places.
I will create it with headphones. I will sneak away to an overlooked corner or nook. I will wander off under (false) pretense.
I will linger too long in elevators or stairwells. If there’s a roof access, that’s a gold mine.
Silence is elusive. I arm myself and seek it out. It’s a better prize than any stuffed head on my wall.