Driving along an outstretched Riverland drag, doing some of my best contemplative work, it occurred to me that I spend a large portion of my life preparing for conversations that I will never actually have to have.
I’d like to think I’m not the only person who does this – stays up late, staging hypothetical dialogue and agonising over when it will come to fruition – but it’s likely I do it to a degree not fit for the fullest productivity of my waking hours.
Cast aside the obvious absurdity that being the sole scriptwriter for multiple living characters means there is, literally, no way these exchanges could play out as imagined, and the energy is still squandered by the sheer pointlessness of half of them.
For my own sense of clarity, and perhaps yours too, I am going to unpack the themes of these conversations and remind myself why thinking about having them (or having them in general) is simply redundant. I’ll rate them on a scale of one to five; five being an offensive waste of time.
The “I need to call in sick to work today” phone call: yes, you may actually have to employ this conversation at some point in your life, and yes, your boss may be a tyrant (that’s why they’re the boss), but unless your excuse is downright phony, there is no use adjourning the inevitable. Just get it over with and trust that they don’t want to catch your germs anyway. A three on the scale.
The long-winded, acutely detailed explanation to friends or family why you made ‘x’ life decision: for starters, why do YOU need to explain a choice YOU made regarding YOUR existence? It’s simple, you don’t. Show people how not to judge you, by not judging yourself. A four-point-five on the redundancy scale.
The unfortunate yet obligatory chit-chat with an ex co-worker/friend/partner’s parent when bumping trollies in the frozen food section: there may be simple solution for this – buy a pair of headphones and wear them everywhere! For some inexplicable reason humans tend to understand these more than they do general social cues. A two on the scale.
The “this is how I really feel about you” confession: depending on the context of this conversation, and whether the admission is a grand gesture of love or just a giant kick in the ego, this may actually be useful later down the track. Bank it for easy recall but don’t obsess over getting the chance to have it your way. The right time will come and I’m sure, deep down, they know how you feel anyway. A one on the scale.
The breaking up with a future partner conversation: NB, partner required for conversation to occur. A solid five.
A bit of groundwork for some of life’s probabilities isn’t entirely impractical, especially if you like to keep your headspace organised, however, there is only room for so many good decisions per diem. Rinsing that extra brain-power trying to predict an outcome with variables like… well, other human beings… is definitely not effective time management. Surrender to what you can’t control and instead think about that which you can, like dinner. That’s hard enough sometimes.
Originally published in The Murray Pioneer