Ideas, Most of All
A friend and I were walking back to our dorm, talking about the most random people and laughing at how we perceived them when an epiphany and a quote, each of its words hard like small pebbles, hit us.
We were talking about Lucy, not her real name, and I think the discussion was going too far it made us guilty.
Me: You know, I remember this quote about the different kinds of minds… “Great minds discuss ideas, average, events, small minds, people…”
Friend: Yes. I’ve heard of that!
Me: So, okay, let’s stop talking about Lucy and start talking about the idea of Lucy.
We kept laughing about it but it struck us both that a lot of our conversations bordered on people and the things they do and what we think about them. After the realization, we kept walking and discussing some more people, proof that human beings easily forget especially when they’re challenged to move out of the mold they’ve comfortably put themselves in.
Two weeks later, I was with the same friend and some more others at a restaurant, celebrating a birthday and Valentine’s day. We were our usual talkative selves, laughing our hearts out like the whole world is a joke and we’re part of it, randomly taking sips of cold coffee and spewing crumbs of chocolate cake. My friend observed that our topics were getting out of hand so she interrupted the hullabaloo in mid-happening and reminded us of the quote.
The discussions went some levels higher after the interruption and one of us said how it’s kind of awkward talking about sophisticated things when the shallow topics we were so used to have become natural as the words we speak. We all agreed that it was a refreshing reminder and how it helped us be more conscious of our tirades and open mouths. Actor-observer asymmetry tells us that our judgments of other people, especially actions that we deem wrong, have chronically failed us and that discussing them is synonymous to listening to dead air.
This does not mean that we’re taking the quote at face value and refraining from mentioning a single word about any person whatsoever. Human beings are central to a lot of things, if not everything, and it’s hard to discuss without looking at human examples in the past and in the present. It’s just that we are also given the ability to look at the bigger picture and to stop pinning down specific people and dissecting their individual persons and behavior and pitting them against our own. After all, we are but observers with a biased perspective and a limited view of the world.
And here’s how we’re coping up. On Friday night, after the youth service at church, we ate at a fast food restaurant and started talking about love songs and the wealth of twisted views on relationships. Charm, one of the older ones in the group (like me), facilitated the discussion and asked our opinions on songs like “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang?” which when translated to English goes like “Why Did You Come Late Into My Life?” and The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” and “If You Ever Come Back”. It was a different kind of fun and it still needs some getting used to but unlike some other conversations of the past, it was guilt-free and wisdom flowed in like fresh air.