I can remember when my friend first described me as taciturn. It didn’t seem like an insult but it was a new word to me and I had to go and look it up. Even though I now know that it means somebody who doesn’t say very much, I still need to look it up just to make sure because it feels like I am missing something of the meaning. The key I think now is that to be taciturn you need to be in a conversation, so it describes a behaviour when I am around other people.
There are times in my life when I have had enough talking and discussing about certain things, and I’ve been pondering why that is. The current topic is Brexit, the reasons and consquences of the UK leaving Europe. It isn’t that I am uninterested. I currently have the Guardian post on 10 Leave voters and the Observer’s editorial on the referendum vote to reflect on and analyse; I do want to understand other people’s point of view. I want to do that analysis and discuss it. I think what I want is informed discussion not seemingly random moaning and media hysteria. How are we going to make the best of the situation? How are we going to identify the issues and what are we going to do about them? These are the things that interest me now. I want the UK to take responsibility and to move on.
Is this my coping mechanism though? Am I so overwhelmed with the situation, that I have to shut down my emotions and forced myself to move. Possibly. When I am trying to connect with my emotions is this a good way of coping? I don’t think it matters at the moment. I have faith in myself, I am doing the best I can at this time, the fact that I am aware of the possibility of burying my emotions means that I have left a trail that I can follow to get back to them again.
When I feel people are about to moan about the EU referendum result, my automatic reaction now is to say “life goes on” and not to engage. Is this perceived as rude? Possibly, but if I say “I feel I’ve talked enough about Brexit and I would rather not discuss it anymore”, it seems worse to me.
We had a friend staying recently and he leads a unusual and fascinating life which I would love to know more about. I knew little about it when he arrived, and for me I naturally focused on the here and now aspects of his visit such as drink, food and current feelings. This seemed to be a helpful behaviour because as time went on I learnt that he gets fed up (my words) of being “interrogated” about his life. Somehow my behaviour suited him, I did ask him questions, but I waited until they were connected with something he had already said. I took my lead from him. Later on, we went on a walk with local friends, and he was perceived as rude because he said he didn’t want to talk about his life, he wanted to enjoy the walk. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk, he just wanted to concentrate on the here and now experience.
We had other friends visiting (it’s been rather busy recently). I was aware that on two occasions Emma started a conversation with “Robyn (my wife) said that you ..”. I engaged in the conversation and answered both questions as honestly as I could. I was also aware though, that I didn’t pick up on asking the questions back. I was interested but somehow I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I wasn’t being taciturn, but I also wasn’t engaging fully. Was I being rude? Maybe.
I learnt through my late teens, that asking questions is a great way of starting communication, but eventually I would run out of questions and the conversation would close. True conversation I think, needs a swapping of experiences and making of connections. I have learnt through my (hopefully) middle years to share my experience too. Perhaps making connections is the hardest thing to achieve, it requires a meeting of minds. How I get there isn’t easy. Different people have different requirements, and sometimes being taciturn can be useful.