I love interviewing people. I enjoy how their facial expressions change, their voices mutate for inflection, and their eyes twinkle when they touch on something humourous or touching. I am a natural-born listener. It isn’t easy for me to speak for long periods of time. I could probably sing for longer than I speak.
For this reason, I do not understand the new era of interviews, particularly those I view on CNN. Interviewers interrupt their subjects, talk over them, and sometimes even talk more than the person they are interviewing. When this happens, I have to turn the television off. Perhaps I am naive in assuming that the interviewer’s role is to listen, to enjoy, to allow the story of the other to sink in and shine for television audiences to enjoy.
I remember listening to womens’ conversations in my mother’s living room. If I was really quiet, her friends wouldn’t notice I was there. Often women would come over to can, help make pastries, tie quilts, or just to gab while the kids played in the backyard. Inevitably, I would creep in and make myself useful or almost invisible. I still remember their oversized forms, headless and all legs. But, I haven’t forgotten their conversations.
I wish that more people understood the joy of listening, the joy of cataloguing the ways in which you can recreate a story someone else has told. Photographs and videos cannot capture the retelling of a story like words on a page.
Today I sat, during my lunch and listened. Tom told me a story. I watched him tell it, my spine tingling, my brain whirring. And I treasured that moment with the hope that someday his story, in my brain’s collection, might make it to the page.
Even if his story doesn’t morph into a future collection or project, I was glad to not have to vy for airspace. There was joy in drinking in a meditative moment– without the need to steal the limelight.