“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
Author Terry Tempest Williams spoke at the Madison Public Library a couple of years ago. I eagerly listened to her tell stories of her creative process and her life as an environmental activist. As an advocate for Nature, she is a voice in the political arena, speaking and writing for a crucial entity that has no verbal communication of its own. Often her advocacy comes down to what she calls “Difficult Dinner Parties” where she engages with leaders of various types in discussions of how their actions and policies affect the environment.
In today’s political climate, there could be many reasons why hosting a “Difficult Dinner Party” might be advantageous for coming to understand a different point of view from friends, colleagues, even loved ones. Unfortunately, due to the threat of coronavirus, getting together for dinner isn’t an option in many cases.
Consequently, communication in a convivial setting has been hampered. To me, that’s a sad thing. I think it’s a morale-buster. Maybe it’s not the biggest problem we face in these difficult times, but I sure do miss a good dinner party — the preparation, the anticipation, the conversation, the communication of shared food, shared words, shared ideas, shared affection.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
How many different cultures have a ritual of gathering together at table to confer? Conference tables still occupy the high-rise offices of the most sophisticated enterprises. Maybe they only serve water and coffee, but the origin seems the same to me.
“Communication is truth; communication is happiness. To share is our duty; to go down boldly and bring to light those hidden thoughts which are the most diseased; to conceal nothing; to pretend nothing; if we are ignorant to say so; if we love our friends to let them know it.”
I so love the Dostoevsky quote at the top, because what is unsaid is often the most important thing of all. And your pictures of gatherings make me long for such events when the quarantines end. This is a powerful post, and it makes me think about what we say and why.
I’m so glad this post has made you think and consider. Communication is indeed a powerful tool.
Hello ScillaGrace Human. I am so glad you have responded to my challenge. Ma Leueen tells me she likes that Dostoevsky Human. She has read some of his stuff. I can not ever pronounce his name but Ma Leueen is doing the typing for me. I understand it is important to chat around a meal. We horses chat to each other, in the evenings, when all the humans have gone to their homes. We munch our hay and chat about how our day went.
I knew you would get it! Tying on the old feed bag with friends in the barn is good times, I bet.
Yes it is. 🐴
A creative and interesting response to the challenge Priscilla. Yes we definitely miss those dinner parties, as well as simply gathering around a table with family and/or friends. Hopefully we’ll be enjoying (and appreciating) moments like those again soon.
It would be nice to have Thanksgiving be a holiday from the pandemic… 🙂
Oh wouldn’t it though!
Yes, we all miss gathering around a table, with food, coffees or whatever… Great post!
Loved your post, Priscilla – I too miss gatherings and eating good food in good company. Hopefully next year…
Thanks, Ann-Christine. Yes, keeping hope alive…
Great interpretation, Priscilla. Love how you use good food and company to express. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you, Amy! Always my pleasure.
EXCELLENT interpretation. I love all the books and dining tables, and with people! Very well done.
Thanks, John – it is an inviting setting which I’m hoping to recreate soon.
I share your hope that we can gather around the table again for some great food and conversation. I love that idea of the difficult dinner parties. A wonderful idea. And a fabulous post.
Thanks, Patti. I have since learned about a group started in 2016 in San Francisco called “Make America Dinner Again” which is about gathering for conversation. It’s still operational online.
I love it. I’ll check it out.