Make time to talk, and listen, to each other – Community Matters

By Ash Rangasamy, Community Builder for Paignton Town & Clifton with Maidenway

Recently I had a conversation with a friend. I say conversation…I won’t bore you with the details, but I didn’t so much talk at her as I did explode in her general direction.

An eruption of sentiments, thoughts, feelings, experiences spewed forth from my mind.

Before one word could be fully formed, a torrent of others had coming barging out of my face and carelessly thrown into the mix.

How my friend was able to follow my tirade is beyond me.

But she did. very patiently she listened, nodded, affirmed, allowed me to say what I needed to say and, as my flow finally ran dry said: “My, my, you haven’t spoken to anyone in a while, have you?!”

I hadn’t. Not really anyway.

Sure, I had had idle chit-chat with the cashier at the grocery store, and I’m far too eager to chat to my poor dog but I hadn’t really talked to anyone, or been listened to for a long while.

It really helped me. I’m not saying we solved every problem, soothed every wound that poured out in that moment.

But simply by having that space to commit these thoughts to reality and air them in the light of day was wonderful.

I felt light. Refreshed. Able to understand where I was and what I needed to do next.

And most importantly, I felt valued. I had been heard.

We often talk about how we can solve problems together. We can end hunger. We can beat climate change. We can, we can, we can.

It doesn’t always feel like that though. But there is something we can do at the moment.

We can listen to each other. We can talk to each other.

I know it sounds trivial, obvious even, but this last year has trapped so many of us. Shut us in and cut us off, and as we tentatively edge out of lockdown and back to ‘normality’ there will be a lot of people bursting at the seams, ready to explode.

So, if you can, talk to someone. Listen to someone.

You may unwittingly be helping them out. You may even save a life.