When springtime finally gets here there will be happy dancing going on in the streets of Minnesota! And we are getting so close now so hang on…we’ll all make it!
I use to believe when I was much younger that those that bring up the weather as conversation were just not interesting people. The “weather talkers” were simply people who didn’t lead interesting lives and quite frankly didn’t have anything better to talk about. I felt it was so humdrum and I found it frustrating. And then I got older and began to listen to things that were not always apparent and I learned a great deal. And I found out that people don’t talk about the weather because they are not interesting. People talk about the weather because we all crave connection with one another, but we sometimes need to do that in the “safety zone.”
It’s a funny thing how weather is the great equalizer for all. When meeting a group of people we don’t really know, or standing with a stranger anywhere, the one thing that we all know is safe to talk about is the weather. It is the “safety zone” for all. Why? Weather is the same for all of us. Sure there might be one that loves the snow while another doesn’t and one that loves to walk in the rain while another walks only in the sun. But it is still something that we all understand. It treats everyone equally. We can all rely on it to be the one thing that everyone, regardless of where you have come from, understands.
There is a song by Snatum Kaur, that perhaps I have mentioned before that has the lines, “when it rains, it rains on everyone, it doesn’t make choices” and “when the sun shines, it shines on everyone, it doesn’t make choices”. These words are metaphors for much more than the weather but when people talk about the weather it is more as well. It doesn’t make choices about who it affects and it treats everyone equally. It is then up to us what we do with it. And we all feel equal in that understanding.
If we could then take this example of weather, affecting us all, and realize that it isn’t just the weather that is an equalizer for us. Let’s look at the words to the song again and change a few words; “We all cry, everyone, it makes us human. We all hurt, everyone, it makes us human”. Or how about; “When we share, it spreads everywhere, cuz we’re human. We all love, yes everyone, because we’re human.”
So, if all the things that make us human are equalizers, why do we rely so heavily on just the weather to talk about? Because there is no investment of emotion in it. It is quick, it is easy, and we don’t have to invest any part of us in a conversation about the weather. This non-investment keeps us safe because all of those other things, that make us human beings with emotions and equalize us, make us vulnerable and that’s just not somewhere most are willing to go, even with someone they know well. The weather may be an equalizer for us but our great equalizer is simply having attributes that make us human. All of the things that make us beautiful, or sometimes not so beautiful, we understand. We all understand being human. But most of us also have the belief that if we are going to invest ourselves in a conversation then it is going to take time. And it seems none of us ever have enough time. A topic that we don’t need investment of any kind in is the weather. To speak of what the weather is doing helps make a connection with another human. This connection is safe, time sensitive, and easy, but is still a connection. And connection is what it is all about.
It is so much easier on our schedules to get on an elevator with another and say, “Wow, it’s a warm one out there, isn’t it?” (Ok, I realize it has been so long since most of us have heard that, it’s almost funny!) And the expected response is “It sure is!” or “Yeah, it’s a cooker!” or something similar. There may be one or more other comments about the heat and memories from both about extreme highs and lows experienced, all dependent on the length of the ride and if anyone else joins them. Then both exit the elevator and go their separate ways. It goes on millions of times a day. And it is just one more thing that creates the connection we all crave as a human tribe.
So, how’s the weather out there in your neck of the woods? I no longer think that speaking of the weather, or anything else that seems mundane, is not worthwhile. It is about making connections. And there is nothing mundane about that! Keep warm, spring is always on its way!
Joan (& Merri)