Welcome to the very first conversation of this pod series. One where I want you as a listener to feel invited in to be a part of the conversation, as if you could chirp in anytime, with your own reflection about whatever we touch on. These pods will be meandering conversations, a little like a bumble bee flying around my garden. Stopping for some nectar here, rest in the sun over there, only to dive headfirst into a garden bed of enticingly-smelling flowers everywhere. I’d love it if these conversations could be like that for you!
Beverly Delidow is a writer in multiple genres documenting life and work in the Ohio River Valley on her blog, Here’s a Quarter. She is the author of a collection of short stories about life with dogs (Dog Days, 2017). She continues to gather material on canine antics, courtesy of Chiquita and Olive, under the strict supervision of the feline heads of household, Elijah and Felix. She has published poetry in the journal ABZ and has a poetry chapbook (Stepping Stones) coming out spring 2021.
She’s also found on twitter here.
Me and Beverly Delidow, on April 8th, 2021, had just that type of conversation, where the transition from one topic to another can be completely unfathomable. You talk, you listen, and then, BAM, a new thought or connection or analogy pops into your mind…
Now, remember when you were a kid, lying underneath the dining-room table, listening to your parents and their friends talking? Grown-up conversations. About work, and family, and the latest movie/song/book, or what will happen with politics or grandma that’s sick and in the hospital.
Oh. I loved that. Did you? As Beverly share bits and pieces from her childhood, we take a walk down this particular memory lane. For me, it served as an initiation into adulthood. Makes me wonder if kids of today have these experiences or are they off –as soon as dinner is over– to a corner of the living room, or their own room, immersed in a computer game, or watching YouTube or SnapChatting or…?
Different styles of conversing, from the ”lying under the dining room table listening to the grown-up’s talk”, to SnapChatting with a gazillion friends, to when you write a letter to someone. This latter is a form of uninterrupted conversation, where I can put the entire thought down on to paper only to wait for a response. Letter writing uses a different kind of patience and social cue where cues are given from the way it’s written, the word choice and maybe even the handwriting.
As humans are pattern seeking creatures, that must have been an evolutionary boon, otherwise would it not have been ousted through evolution? It helps us take in what’s happening and make a prediction for what happens next. If it’s protective to be able to recognize patterns, what if the curiosity of children, the never-ending question Whazzat that Beverly shares was her first fully formed sentence, is a way there? Makes you wonder at all those times you shut your kid up from asking Why for the umpteenth time, doesn’t it?
Now. Reflection is important as a way to process life, and, in my view, a somewhat forgotten art. But do you think there are people who don’t benefit from reflection, or have they simply not learnt how to? And is this ability (and the link to pattern recognition) what makes stories so important to our species too? Is there an evolutionary advantage to being able to tell (and later on to write down) stories?
Yes. Likely. The oral tradition was the only way we had to pass on history and culture. So in part we became storytellers because it gives structure to human groups living together, creating societies. It allowed us to make labor more efficient too, Beverly muses. Some people were farmers, some hunters, other people took care of the children or made clothes and so on. Once you had professions you have to have a way to pass that on, and to start with we didn’t have textbooks. We learned by doing and telling.
Which is funny, as people seem to think we need schools in order to learn. We. Don’t. Humanity evolved long before modern-day schools and the education system was invented. Now there’s some tankespjärn for you!