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Writer's Block: Strange Conversations

What's the best conversation you've ever had with a stranger—on a bus, in an elevator, at a cafe, etc.?


I think it was the Conformist Cabbie -- he was in New York and while I rode to one of my medical appointments, he explained that he had seen a lot of people drift into rebellion in the sixties when he was in high school. He thought it through and then chose consciously to conform, not to be like everyone else but because it was what he was like and what he wanted in life -- a nice house, a good job he liked, a family. He was happy with his choice.

It was an eye-opener, he was very eloquent and it really did make me stop and think about some of the counterculture folks I know who drifted into it because they were conforming but had just found a different group to conform to. I knew that he was not actually conformist, just someone who made some good conscious decisions about his life and didn't regret them.

The farther into the discussion it got, the clearer his point of view was. He wasn't racist. He wasn't selling his religion. He wasn't trying to impose his life choices on everyone else. He was more just someone who liked having short hair and a conventional job, liked mowing his lawn, fit his context so well that he had no reason to go outside it -- and had taken a look at the alternatives and made a conscious choice without taking up all the poisonous dogmas that went along with it, especially in those times.

Sometimes people can surprise you. That was a deep conversation and telling because of how easy it would've been for anyone I knew to dismiss him as a bigot based on his appearance and age group.
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robertsloan2
Apr. 19th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, he was. I don't think he realized how rare it is for people in this country to admit to making conscious decisions. Let alone doing so and being happy with them. He was like someone from another planet for that and never knew how extraordinary he was. Most of the people I've met on any social or political axis will go quoting other people or say that they got raised to these ideas or something, put off the decisions to tradition or to some leader or writer or minister.

Not just look at all the possibilities and make a sound choice and then be honest. I loved that. He really stands out even among many interesting people I've met at random.
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