I am one chatty gal. But as I get older, I notice the value of silence as a way of combatting all the physical and digital noise around us. It’s easy to get enveloped in the noise, so I’ve worked on being more intentional about the words I say. I choose more carefully when I speak up and when I use silence to speak for me.
As I contemplated this shift, I began noticing that most people aren’t comfortable with silence and so many fill it with things like talking about the weather. In an effort to move closer to more authentic conversation, I decided to cut out the weather small talk and to see what happened.
My reasoning was that there isn’t a single thing I can do about the weather. I can’t make it stop snowing or make it rain when the ground is dry, so if I’m looking for an easy place to cut out conversational noise, the weather was a good place to start. I also chose to practice this conversational boycott to conserve energy for more meaningful interactions with strangers and acquaintances alike. Standing at the sink in the women’s restroom got a lot quieter when I stopped initiating conversation to fill those awkward few seconds in the presence of someone else. And then…
I started gardening, and I became dependent on the weather to know how to plan my watering schedules. I used to hope for rain, specifically on weekends when I was likely to mow, so that I could put it off for another day. But now that mowing isn’t such a chore, I depend on the rain to nourish my flowers, and to ease my daily watering schedule. I’m constantly looking at the clouds to predict whether or not rain is on its way. I check my phone’s weather app to see what the weekly forecast is. I am cheery and enthusiastic when rain does fall, and lament when the rain doesn’t come as forecasted or stops before it reaches my neighborhood (which has happened repeatedly this summer).
Talking about the weather now has purpose. I feel grateful for the four seasons in which I live and no longer see the weather as a filler topic of conversation. It has always been important, but I was less directly affected by it when I wasn’t gardening.
I relate better to farmers and to their dependence on the weather. I recognize now in a new way how vulnerable they are to wind and excessive rain as well as drought conditions.
This gardening thing broadened my perspective in ways I wasn’t prepared for, and I am grateful. Now, I talk about the weather, and it isn’t idle conversation. It is meaningful and holds significance in my day-to-day life.