Now that my son is dating, it gives me the excuse to ‘remember when’. I started thinking about my search for the right guy, and how I knew when a relationship needed to end. Now I was not the perfect date, a bit eccentric with a tendency to chat too much if nervous which certainly turned some suitors off; but indicators for me that the latest fish from the sea needed to go back were much more obvious than this. They were real mood killers! Here is a sampling of lines, each one from a different guy:
Guy #1. My name is not Shawn, it’s actually Bill and I belong to the church of Scientology.
Guy #2. You are on a date with me and I get to decide what you will eat. You’re too skinny so you will have a large Black Forest Cake with extra whip cream.
Guy #3. Your laugh is embarrassing me! Settle down or I’m taking you home.
Guy #4. (After appearing at my door unannounced with a new dress, I seldom wore a dress!) I booked us a reservation and you can wear this!
Guy #5. I once killed a baby calf at the farm with a 2-by-4. Beat him to death. My dad was really mad and beat me after.
I don’t know what it is like dating now. Perhaps this generation has more sense. But what does this have to do with art? I believe art opens up a safe space to explore issues and find out who we truly are. I am not talking about crayons and paper, but rather all artistic activity that provides an aesthetic experience, simply put, living artfully. This could be anything from stopping to smell the roses, to building ships in a bottle. Even the art of conversation can and should be an aesthetic experience.
What do I mean when I say aesthetics? I’m talking about teasing out the beautiful, the pleasing, the sensory experience of every moment. Living each moment in all of your senses. As you speak to someone notice the way they respond. Are they smiling, raising their eyebrows in confusion, leaning towards you or leaning back with arms crossed. Monitor your sound level, are you shouting? Whispering? How does a change in topic affect your listener? Each of these responses will give you a clue about how the conversation is going.
For me, communicating with another person is a privilege, not a right and I treat it this way. If I am more attentive to my audience, then I will choose my words carefully, perhaps holding back on criticism or gossipy remarks. Each word brings to life an idea or thought, a direction and a mood. Once spoken, words are impossible to recall and may move my life in unintended directions. I will be watching, waiting to see how my attention to the details in daily conversation might change the direction of the day for myself and for the person to which I am speaking.