The Art of Conversation

I truly believe that the art of conversation is dying. Sadly.

When I think back to why I opened Auburn in the first place, one of the reasons was for the exchange of energies that occur when people share stories. There is so much to learn from everyone you meet.

Every day as I drive home from the store, I think back to all the people who came in to the store that day, and I can confidently say that I have learned something new from each and every one of them. I’ve had fantastic conversations with 8 year olds about their school, hobbies and marvelled at one young man’s patience as his mother and sisters tried numerous outfits on. What a delight it is to see families come in together and experience the store. Just as exceptional are the ‘gurus’ of vintage fashion who visit. They are walking history books, and I often want to record our conversations because they have so much to teach me.

I try to write it all down, but alas, things called housecleaning, banking, sourcing etc...get in the way.

I often wonder what my life would be like without these wonderful people. Pretty empty, I imagine.

Which brings me to what I was thinking about this morning as I washed the floors…the question which often baffles me on a daily basis: What happened to the art of conversation face-to-face?

Life is going by so quickly these days. Our cell phones are literally part of our anatomy. We do business over e-mail, pay our bills electronically- even parenting over texts and email is acceptable. What happened?

I am just as much to blame here. As a single mother, I just can’t be everywhere all the time (I’m still trying to find my Wonder Woman cape to help me out with that one), so I communicate via text with my daughter when we aren’t under the same roof. I get it- and in many ways am so grateful for all technology does for me. What concerns me is that we are losing the Will to go out into the world and actually communicate with other human beings in the flesh. It simply seems like too much work.

I recall old black and white photos of the building Auburn now calls home as a ‘hub’ for conversation and community. Women exchanged parenting tips, husbands chatted about business and children played on the sidewalk. Yes- played outside in the fresh air! Nobody had their noses down reading a text from somebody in the next township. They were present to each other.

The absolute joy I see when Clients wander into my store and get to experience a piece that reminds them of the past is a gift. They are somehow transported back to that time and place where they are among all the people they love. I see smiles, hear laughter and often am privileged enough to hear the story they recall. Not once has anyone ever said that something reminded them of an email they once read or a text received.

I do worry about the brick-and-mortar stores that close up due to lack of patronage, as most people shop on-line. There is room for every emerging industry, but I believe that face-to-face is always best…or am I kidding myself? I have been accused of being a ‘romantic’ and that my love for this business will eventually fade. Perhaps- but I doubt it. Why? Because the people still come. They really do. Patience and love will never go unnoticed for those who are willing to see it. All you have to do is drag your eyes away from the screen- if only for a moment- and actually see the person in the room looking right back at you. There are a million stories waiting to be shared- and business will go on.
Rachel Behling
Rachel Behling

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