I am eight days into a cross country move. This is not an easy endeavor with four kids and one dog in tow — and a moving company that has yet to deliver our belongings. So we are living between a hotel and an empty house twenty minutes away.
I am discombobulated and operating on instinct (a post for another time). I am asking lots of questions about everything from where I can find a laundromat to why our garbage cans are an eighth the size they are in the Midwest.
What I’ve discovered are five words that lead to information, learning, connection and discovery: Tell me More About That.
Here’s an amazing example of how it’s worked this past week:
Me to Woman in Hotel Pool: So what brings you to this hotel?
She: Me and my son are visiting a world-reknown therapist for his autism.
Me: Fascinating. Tell me More about That.
Well. It turns out, the son in our pool was actually Owen Suskind, the central “character” of the new book Life, Animated written by Pulitzer-Prize winning American journalist and best-selling author Ron Suskind (Owen’s dad and lovely woman’s hubby). Life, Animated is the author’s amazing memoir of his family’s twenty-year, all-consuming struggle to connect intimately with their autistic son, to communicate with him, to create a meaningful life for him.
A book I now must certainly read!
I could have simply observed this mom and son in our pool and kept reading my newspaper. I also may have initiated a conversation, only to be shut down by a weary mother unwilling to engage. That’s a risk we take when we set out to intentionally connect. But more often that not, I am surprised and inspired by people’s unique stories and journeys, all which inform our written word artistry in the most delightful of ways.
For your practice, write a dialogue between two people, ages and gender of your choosing. You decide the setting. Capture the conversation between these two individuals, including somewhere in your story one’s Tell Me More About That invitation to the other. Write for fifteen minutes and be sure to critique other’s work as well!