How we decide to look at things is something that intrigues me. Choosing a seat on a busy train is a process that engages one’s assessment skills. Relying considerably on intuition. And prejudices show up, fears, stereotypes, anticipation. Escape routes will be calculated in half a second.
And there are the rules that must be followed. Who I am reduces the options – does the middle-aged white man sit next to the bearded 20 something white man with ear-phones plugged in, film on his i.pad and 2 phones on the table in front of him? He’s busy. His bustle and pre-occupation communicates, “I need a bit of space….thanks!”
What about the knitter? Could she accommodate a companion for a couple of hours? Click, click, twirl, repeat. Was she giving off analogue signs? “I need a bit of space….thanks!” Or was she a welcomer? “I can multi-task…do sit down, let’s chat…” My tension was building as other passengers in search of a seat behind me began to shuffle. “What’s he doing?” “What’s he going to do…?
I was aware of the rubbish on the table immediately to my left. The man in the seat, buttoned up mack, had spread his breakfast out and spilt stuff. Helpfully though, the seat was next to a parcel rack where I could dump my heavy bag and get out of people’s way. Commit!
We adjusted. Rubbish was moved but the spilt milk was left in front of me.
What’s important to you today? This led to, first “My wife.” And then a two hour conversation hinging round conspiracy theory. Politics, global, national, and local – all rich veins to mine if you want to shine a cynical torch on the systems that are supposed to manage how we live together. Who is in control? Multi-nationals, petro-chemicals, pharmaceuticals. How can you live the way you want to? Isolation, declining health, trying to hold onto principles were explored.
As we approached my destination, I prepared to take my leave. “You can chose to look at all this from a different perspective.” “Yes, I know,” he said. “What about from by a waterfall. All that natural energy.” “Yes, maybe.” He looked up and I thanked my companion for the conversation. “I’ve done most of the talking,” he said.
This was not a coaching conversation. But it was also not a standard conversation. I was rewarded in my forced decision to share my journey with a thinking man. A principled and creative man, willing to share. I wonder what he’s thinking about his journey with me. It reminds me of how one of my coachees described an early coaching conversation. “Not a wanky conversation in the pub…”