You need to stop talking about this

I lay on the floor of the darkened ballroom, my shirt sticking to my sweaty back, tears rolling from my eyes.

That was amazing, I thought.

*****
The next morning, I felt a strange combination of fatigue and exhilaration. I was up early to grab a bite to eat before attending my first session of the day during the annual American Orff-Schulwerk Association national conference in Las Vegas. The night before, the man who had introduced me to the Orff process had led an evening session on transformational movement. The name was apt. After dancing, moving and responding to music in ways I never had before, I felt different. And I wanted to tell everyone about it.

My coworker, Kathleen, was also attending the conference. On our way to breakfast, I described my experience from the previous night at length. As we waited in line to order, we saw another coworker. I told her about the movement session, too. When Kathleen and I sat at a four-seater in the crowded café, two other conference attendees asked to share our table. After introductions, the conversation moved to our thoughts on the conference. Again, I described my feelings about the transformational movement session.

“It was amazing. I was so incredibly moved by the experience. It was wonderful.”

“That’s nice,” said one of the women before telling us about the concert she had attended the night before.

I was miffed that the woman had dismissed my experience so quickly. I didn’t convince her how important this was, I thought. I’ll choose my words more carefully next time.

After the two women left, Kathleen turned to me. “You need to stop talking about this.”

Her words stung me. I was hurt that she didn’t want to hear about my life-changing experience. Kathleen was more than a colleague, I considered her a friend.

“Why?” I finally managed to ask.

“Each time you talk about it, you are giving away a piece of it. People who weren’t there just won’t understand. Every time you tell someone else, you are diminishing the experience.”

As usual, Kathleen was right. I had been disappointed by that other woman’s response. Here I had poured out my heart, and she had moved blithely onto the next topic. Each time I tried to find new, better words to adequately described what happened, some of the magic was lost. It was like hanging up a beautiful photograph only to have the sun bleach out its colors.

I moved past my hurt feelings and trusted Kathleen’s advice. I stopped talking about it. Even now, I worry about writing this. Isn’t this why I blog? To share life-altering or profoundly moving stories?

Maybe that is the purpose, but some experiences can’t be shared. Some experiences I will selfishly hold on to. Sometimes, I need to stop talking about this.

14 thoughts on “You need to stop talking about this

  1. Personally, I am all for sharing our experiences. How will anyone choose to investigate things further if they aren’t introduced to new ideas in the first place? From your link, it seems like one of the really cool things about the Orff Schulwerk approach is the focus on strengthening critical thinking skills. Critical thinking (and creativity) – two things which are sorely lacking in many traditional approaches to education. Those things kick memorization’s ass any day!

    Thanks for sharing this, Cyn.

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  2. I agree that there are some experiences that can’t be captured in words, and I sometimes think we do violence to those experiences when we try. I teach a course in Adult Learning and Development in which one of the topics is “transformational learning.” I am very careful about how and when I invite my students to volunteer to share their own experiences of transformation, because they can be so deeply personal.

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  3. I’m torn too. There are things that I desperately want to write about, but sometimes either sharing seems inappropriate, or maybe it’s just not entirely my story to tell. I think this balance is the hardest part of thing blogging thing we do.

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  4. SO TRUE. In the telling there’s a diminishing. Some things I hold onto in my heart, until they’re ready to be told, and others I spread around but don’t really get the message across. I usually err on the side of TMI though.

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