I lost my voice. Literally. Due to several days of cold and coughing. Unlike my reading pause, my talking pause has not been voluntary. I have had to cancel meetings and focus on healing my voice for teaching.
Yet, not talking has been inspiring. First of all, I have suddenly all this unplanned extra time due to cancelled meetings. Thus, I have been able to plan, write and read. Great! Second, not talking doesn’t mean no communication. Smile and a nod has taken me far when meeting someone. They might not even notice that I don’t speak. In Finland that is possible.
Maybe most educational has been the fact that I have been forced to listen to others. Only body language, like nodding, smiling, and at home wrinkling my nose and rolling my eyes. It is hard not to comment! For instance yesterday my colleague said something I would have normally started to debate, may I say heatedly. This time I just nodded and continued listening. Actually, it happened that my colleague answered all my questions without me asking them as I only let time pass.
I propose a deliberate talking pause for everyone once in a while. It can be as short as 10 minutes. Don’t wait for losing your voice, as that’s not very good for anyone. However, listening to others is very good for everyone. It builds up patience and signals respect. I want to take this time and listen what you have to say.
I spotted this spring’s first hitchhiker. I have hitch-hiked only once: I spent one New Year’s Eve at my friend’s childhood home in the middle of the Finnish countryside. Her parents had left for someplace else and we had the whole house for ourselves. As all of us were students, we had a limited budget for the celebrations. Yet, we had decided to have a meal including avocados. Such a great idea in the cold North when the nearest bigger supermarket with bearable avocados was several kilometres away and there was no car available.
Not to worry! My friend had a plan to get the avocados from a bigger supermarket. In order to make it to the store, we crafted a large cardboard sign with the supermarket name on it and walked by the highway to wait for a free ride. In less than 5 minutes we were sitting in a warm car on our way to buy avocados.
Lately I have been reading about bricolage, a concept introduced by Levi-Strauss in 1960’s for anthropology. Bricolage activity includes accomplishing things with whatever one has at hand. Currently my interests are in organisational bricolage where the organisational culture takes advantage of unexpected possibilities and resources. Still, I cannot avoid identifying some of my close friends and colleagues as bricoleurs aiming to achieve their goals with little resources.
My avocado friend is known for her ability to create an event out of from (almost) nothing. She has an incredible network of people who have access to various resources, like a sauna in a remote island in front of Helsinki. Moreover, she uses these connections in order to create something unique.
In addition to the organisational applications, bricolage can be used for something very ordinary. Like hitch-hiking to the supermarket for avocados in the middle of the winter. Or at least very ordinary for some people!