spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself

These elders were not in a hurry; they were country people. They kept an eye on passersby, greeting the people they knew, sometimes calling out to a child who seemed out of line to them. It was they who taught me that a conversation even between strangers could be a gift and a sport of sorts, a chance for warmth, banter, blessings, humor, that spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself. Many years later when I spent time in New Orleans and other parts of the South, they felt oddly like home to me, and I realized that this bit of the West Coast had been an outpost of the black South in those days.

Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, March 10, 2020)

Comments

  1. what a wonderful gift and legacy to human connection

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This passage brought to mind my childhood days in the Midwest. As a kid, I remember my parents and grandparents couldn’t go anywhere…grocery store, drug store, hardware store, gas station…without engaging in a bit of conversation with folks. As a teen, it frustrated me terribly, I just wanted to ‘get in and get out.’ As an adult, I realize how that those exchanges were the threads that wove the fabric of community.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. My cowboy dad would stop and talk to anybody and everybody. His lessons in communication were the best gift he ever gave me!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of countless outposts from the Black south. Gifts, offerings, and we should give back.

    What a powerful passage for today. Thank you for sharing.
    🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My eldest daughter, sister and I all share the trait of being ‘story gatherers’ as we call it. It is a legacy from my father – the art of listening deeply to the stories people share – the biggest difference today versus when I was younger,– he would meet a stranger, engage them in conversation and that night, they’d be at our dinner table.
    Working in a homeless shelter, (a very storied place) staff brought people to my office just so they could tell me their stories. In the often ‘I’m invisible’ world of homelessness, it is through telling of our stories, and being listened to deeply and feeling like our story is being honoured, that we know we are ‘seen’. We exist. And if we exist, then there is the hope of changing our story.
    It’s what I hear in Solnit’s reference to the elders — they let people know, “I see you. I hear you. I honour you and your story.”

    Liked by 6 people

  6. “ a conversation even between strangers could be a gift and a sport of sorts, a chance for warmth, banter, blessings, humor, that spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself.” – Reminds me of the wonderful WordPress community…

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Sounds interesting, to say the least!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Very interesting … Rebecca Solnit, Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, March 10, 2020).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know I am one who will spark up a conversation. It is amazing what people share when they feel someone is listening… And it is such a beautiful thing.
    Perfect choice of quote, David. Happy Friday!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It was they who taught me that a conversation even between strangers could be a gift and a sport of sorts, a chance for warmth, banter, blessings, humor, that spoken words could be a little fire at which you warmed yourself.

    I so agree with that passage, that conversation between strangers can be a gift and a sport of sorts. I’m always happy to banter with strangers

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Again, I started writing but then I couldn’t send it – it’s a mish-mash with my new logo, somehow I’m also still in the books with old logo on WP but don’t know how to delete it and only can comment either on the smartphone or laptop – but not on the iPad. Sorry – also didn’t want to send above sentence ‘like that’. I even thought I’d lost it completely. Now I see that it’s there pretty much w/o any meaning – because of my mixed-up thoughts and impressions and the impossibility to comment (in full).
    Translated a short German text on Grief into English, spoke it to the person who asked me to do that, that person sent it inadvertently to a grandmother in another city and one hour later that woman got told that her grandson of 25yrs just died of a massive heart attack. I am ‘all over the place’ and then, I had this uncomfortable phone discussion with my son who can be well-meaning but terribly stubborn. This left me mentally drained and in a dizzy for several hours. So, in the evening, I went out on foot for some shopping and this one lady seemed to follow me and looking at me constantly. I wondered whether people could see my state of mind, checked if I wore pants and didn’t go without shoes, but then she came VERY close o me and complimented me on my hair. She apologized for following me around and we chatted (far too close to each other, and IN a store!) for 5 minutes. I liked her compliments but was bewildered by her ‘intimate’ behaviour….
    Home again I realised that HH was STILL on the phone at his computer, at 7pm on a Friday. We chatted a bit afterwards, I put my shopping away and I had a 30′ call with my mother. An urgent mail reply to my sister, and here I am – it’s nearly midnight here, I meant to say things about your posts, things I couldn’t because I am ‘null’ on the smartphone and can’t do it on the tablet – and in the end I am not saying anything of any relation to that post – I’m just talking to you, my ‘neighbour’, friend, my girlfriends following your blog – and thus keeping in touch. Maybe Solnit doesn’t mind THIS kind of chat or conversation, as it also keeps the community together!

    Like

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